Little things matter. Along the way you discover they weren't so little after all.

Tag Archives: Minnesota

This workstation fueled by coffee

This workstation fueled by coffee

Have you ever had one of those moments when you discover something that you didn’t even know you were missing?

Maybe it was when you took a class and it changed the entire direction of your academic goals.

It could be when you met a very special someone.

Or it could be walking into your first local chapter meeting of American Christian Fiction Writers.

Okay, that last one was just me.

It was great enough to participate in the Christian Writers Guild meetings, which encompasses all types of writers and publishing. But the local chapter of ACFW, dubbed MN N.I.C.E., was more specific, smaller and directed at learning skills to write more effective fiction.

I’ve been trying to allow myself to dream big and work to make connections in writing circles. I have much to learn, and I’m not too proud to admit that there are many times when I don’t even know the question to ask. I don’t mind learning from others, in fact I welcome it. It can be intimidating to walk into a room filled with a bunch of people you don’t know. When you come to a group that is united by a common cause or purpose, it really decreases the new-member fear factor.

In my experience, people at these meetings are welcoming and happy to visit, even if they don’t know you personally…yet. And the questions they ask to start a conversation will make you feel like someone is taking seriously your writing endeavors, which in itself can be enough reason to go to a meeting! Sure, you may be one of the youngest people there, and there seem to be little to tie you to the people in that room, but when you realize your goals and aims are rooted in writing, there is a commonality that bridges many gaps in background, life station, personality or interests.

Three other places I’ve been able to connect online:

  • Twitter on Tuesday evenings by using the #writestuff hashtag
  • Twitter on Friday nights by using the #writeclub hashtag
  • Facebook as a part of the Writers Unite group.

I highly recommend engaging with other writers this way. In addition, almost every state has its own group of local writers, people who are out there doing it. It may not be convenient to you, but they are out there. And it is a matter of how much you want it. How much do you want to further your own writing skills and potentially give back to your local writing community? Even if you don’t drive to a meeting once a month, with a little internet access, you can connect with others and save on gas. 🙂

If you have ideas for other ways to ‘find your tribe’ as a writer, I’d love to hear from you. And as a reader of this blog, you are part of my writing tribe, my writing community, and I thank you for being a part of this journey.  Seriously. Thank you.

(Here’s the link for American Christian Fiction Writers: )


Last weekend I went to the Sara Groves concert at Church of the Open Door in Maple Grove. I’ve never seen her play live before, and I had a great time. She’s very engaging, not to mention that her music is filled with poignant images and captivating wordcraft. Check out some of her music for yourself: (the MySpace site included less than a minute of the songs it listed, and that’s no fun).

Besides all that, she and her husband/manager/percussionist, Troy, made what sounded like the official announcement of the creation of Art House North in Saint Paul. She was so funny about it, and for people who like to know exact details and a laid-out plan, she probably made them a little crazy, because she and her husband don’t know exactly what will happen with it. They do have a model for it, though, and they’re basing it on what they’ve witnessed in Nashville:

From what I gather, the idea is to bring Christian artists together and help them grow into greater impact in their community. Sara — yes, I just called her “Sara” and you probably would too if you saw her in concert. She seemed like someone I have always been friends with but just didn’t realize it yet, as if just as soon as things settle down, she’ll get around to calling me and we’ll resume our great friendship. Anyway, Sara referenced a quote (I can’t remember who it was from) that talked about not looking to the government to know about a people, but looking at their art instead. It is the art, the music, the theater, the literature, the photography, that reflects the heart of a people. I think that informs the purpose of Art House North, but they are still filling in the details.

Something in me was very attracted to the idea behind Art House. Maybe it was the thought of doing something of significance to a larger segment of the world besides my own family (don’t worry, fellow mommies, I definitely am of the mind that raising with children is of the utmost significance, and creating a home that is filled with love and peace and safety takes an untold amount of hard work). Maybe it was the idea of  being an artist, someone who is driven by that inner force to create. Maybe the appeal was a connection to community, that adolescent desire to belong that we never completely outgrow. It may even be old memories of dorm life or time spent working at camp, when a whole bunch of pals were always nearby. There was no telling what kind of antics would occur in a 24 hour period.

Who knows what will come of Art House North? Only the Lord knows, because from the sounds of it, they are remaining open to His leading, which is rarely neat and never on our own time schedule, right? But I bet there will be some exciting things to come from Art House North, so keep your eyes open and if you find out anything, be sure to let me know!

Postscript: I would be remiss if I discussed Sara Groves and didn’t mention International Justice Mission, an organization that fights human trafficking throughout the world. Here’s some information from the IJM website, which is

International Justice Mission is a human rights agency that brings rescue to victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. IJM lawyers, investigators and aftercare professionals work with local officials to secure immediate victim rescue and aftercare, to prosecute perpetrators and to ensure that public justice systems – police, courts and laws – effectively protect the poor.

IJM’s justice professionals work in their communities in 13 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America to secure tangible and sustainable protection of national laws through local court systems.

See why I didn’t bring it up earlier? That’s a lot to process, and definitely a topic for a future night. Be well!

Two days ago it was over 100 degrees here in good ‘ol Minnesota, land of 10,000 lakes and plenty of beaches that are either skunky or private. Until I started trying to find a lake to swim in, I never noticed how many of our 10,000+ lakes are really only for fishing – lots of them are surrounded by reeds or weeds that would devour any brave swimmer who attempted to reach the open water.

My three kids and I loaded up the car in search of a better beach experience than our most recent at the horrible, smelly, dead-fish infested beach on White Bear Lake which, as it turned out, had a sign posted saying “No Swimming” because of the low water levels and drop offs. As if I would have wanted to hopscotch over the fish corpses to get to the water in the first place (okay, there were three dead fish, but they had been there a long time and the whole place smelled like it should be the end of August instead of the beginning of June). I remained scarred by the disappointment of our last swimming attempt, so although the kids were outfitted in swim suits, I remained in my tank top and capris. Soon, I was wishing I had exercised more faith and put on the swim suit because we found one of the best spots I’ve been to and it was less than 10 minutes from my Lake Elmo home and, wait for it, because it happened to be the first Tuesday of the month, it was FREE. I couldn’t have planned it better if I had tried!

What was this sublime discovery of bliss on such a sweaty hot day? It was a swimming pond. What exactly is that, you ask? To the untrained eye, it looks like a cross between a traditional pond (because of the small size), a sandy beach (because of the, well, the sand), and a park (because of the restrooms close nearby and the playground just over the hill). But it is even more than all that. It is a chlorinated, shallow, sandy bottomed haven of respite on an unseasonably hot day. It was perfect for my three kids (ages seven and under) to splash and swim safely for hours without any leeches, weeds, or swimmer’s itch. I was kicking myself for not having on my suit because we would have stayed much longer than the two hours we did had I been prepared. Next time, I’ll bring one of those plastic weave, collapsible lawn chairs so I can sit in the water and throw things for my little retrievers to fetch while I bask without getting any sand anywhere it does not belong.

The word on the street is that if you want a spot under an umbrella, especially on the weekend, you must get there by 10:00a.m., and the weekends during the summer are very busy. It will be sure to pick up as children finish school. It was also suggested that it settles down after dinner, so for less activity and more room to spread out, it might be wise to leave for an early dinner, then return just as everyone else is heading out. It only costs $25 for a permit that is good for a year, which is so worth it especially when you consider the cost of bringing a family to a water park for the day. I drive a rockin’ minivan so just think of how many people I could cram in it and bring to the swimming pond, especially if we have a hot summer. If you’re looking for a cheap time and a chance to swim, dig, splash, build, float and relax, this is the place to try. (Scroll down in the link to see/read info about the swimming pond.)

We finally (FINALLY!) moved into our new house. We could take a moment to reflect and rejoice just about that fact alone, but we will move on to the real point of this post — my newly inherited garden.

It is so hard to wait and see what comes up in the garden beds. I’m dying to get  my hands in the dirt and add to the basics that I’ve found so far. It is still kindof early, but already I’ve identified multiple varieties of hostas, peonies, daffodils, sedums, rhododendrons, silver mound and grape hyacinths. Someone here cared for this yard at one point, but it has been a while. And of course, as things vary by gardener, there are placements of flowers and shrubs that leave me scratching my head. For example, why did someone plant burning bush, which is now at least five feet tall, at the front of a flower bed along the side of the house and then place sedums behind it? The sedums will be blocked out from sight by the shrubs. Why? I’m not sure yet, and it may end up being a lack of planning, but maybe there’s a secret reason that will become clear as the season progresses.

I found a fantastic website that focuses on plants that thrive in Minnesota. None of this “landscaping in Georgia business” that so many gardening magazines use as their starting point and which won’t help me in the least. The University of Minnesota Extension Office is a great resource and this particular link has all kinds of helpful plants that grow well in our conditions. They also have lists of plants that are deer resistant, which is a new challenge of my new location. They’ve already munched the tops off the emerging hostas near the road and along the end of the driveway, and I’m curious about how far into the yard they will venture.

If you’re looking for plants that have a good chance of thriving in Minnesota, that don’t need a lot of babying, and that have a long flowering season, check out this link and see what you think. They even list things that attract butterflies or hummingbirds, always a welcome addition to the interest of the garden. I have a feeling it will be something I come back to again and again.

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