Who Says You Can’t Go Camping in January?

January 26, 2011
before dining room


Do you remember forts out of blankets and cardboard box houses? They were whimsical, whisking you off to another world. Well, in the dead of January (because honestly, there are few signs of life) with welcoming below-zero temperatures and even lower windchills, I was in need of an “alternate reality.”



If you add to this equation, a new tent, my roommate’s new sleeping bag and headlamp and a fun friend from out-of-town, you have a perfect storm for a camping trip. Oh, but did I mention the subzero temperatures?

So, with our dining room rug unearthed, we set up my tent. It almost felt like the great outdoors. We turned off all the lights, added headlamps and warm clothing and sat inside my tent, strategically located in front of the giant snow drift on our balcony.

in tent

Camping in January!

We inhaled a warm summer breeze (thanks to a scented candle). The sounds of frogs and crickets filled our ears (thanks to my roommate’s alarm clock). Then we took toothpicks and lil’ smokies and had ourselves a barbeque (over the candle, of course). If you charred the smokies, they tasted almost like the real thing (and lost the “summer breeze” taste). To finish it off, we ate roasted mini-marshmellows and even a few s’mores made with Andes mints. I would have to say it was incredible.

For the record, my roommate and I did sleep the entire night in our tent. It was glorious!

Roasting lil' smokies.


Mmm! Roasted marshmallows!


Incredible Moments Abound

January 22, 2011

Happy 2011! It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, partially because I’ve had so many incredible moments, that I couldn’t decide what to blog about. So here is a rundown of the past month or so.

Winter Whiteout

I’ll begin with my last post about Tristan’s adoption/baptism. The adoption/baptism was really the most incredible part, but I must also mention God’s protection of me while I was driving home. For the last 30 miles, I drove in whiteout conditions and even was passed by a semi-truck.

Whiteout while driving

This is what it looked like while I was driving. I can't help but love North Dakota!

I prayed and kept watching the mile markers to make sure I was still on the road. I thought about stopping but didn’t know where I could or how anyone else could avoid crashing into me in those conditions. So I kept going, even as I listened to the lyrics, “It doesn’t show signs of stopping. And I’ve brought some corn for popping. So since we’ve no place to go. Let it snow. Let it snow. Let it snow.” I’ve never disagreed more, but nevertheless, I made it safely home.

NYC on NYE with my BFFs

The next incredible moments came over my Christmas break. First, I must mention that I am blessed to work at Concordia College, where I get almost two weeks off for Christmas

My New York appropriate haircut

Here I am with my new New York-appropriate haircut.

 break. And thanks to my Delta frequent flier miles, I had a $10 trip to take. So after an amazing Christmas with my family, I set out from Fargo to begin my journey. With a new haircut, skinny jeans and boots (just in case, I saw Stacy and Clinton from “What Not to Wear” on the streets of New York), I was fully prepared. Here is a summary of some of the incredibleness that took place:

  • By flying into Tennessee to meet my friend Evie, traveling to South Carolina to meet my friend Amy and taking the Megabus from North Carolina to New York, I was able to cover ten states and have ten legs of my journey (two cars, four busses, and four airplanes).
  • We had tried to use connections to find free housing in NYC and failed. I had given up and was resorting to bid on a hotel we couldn’t afford on Priceline when my aunt generously offered us her hotel reward points, for not one, but three nights in NYC. Moreover, our hotel was about five blocks from Times Square, making our pilgrimage on New Year’s much quicker and safer. What an answered prayer! Oh, and our hotel did not have bedbugs!
  • Evie and I were on “Good Morning, America” on New Year’s Eve, and not only did we
    Evie and me with Robin Roberts

    Here we are with Robin Roberts. My big gold hat would come in handy later when we needed find each other in Times Square.

    get on television and befriend members of the NYPD and host Robin Roberts, but I got this incredible gold hat that I wore on the streets of New York. I’ve never enjoyed wishing people a Happy New Year more, as people could not help but notice my hat.

  • Did you know you are one in a million? Well, I was when we went to Times Square to watch the ball drop. We made it through the checkpoints (well, mobs of people pounding into Times Square) and also made new friends from around the world (Germany, Canada and South Carolina, to name a few). I
    Times Square on New Year's Eve

    Here we are with some of our new friends. Nothing like eight hours of standing with 1.5 million other people to create an instant bond!

    wasn’t a big fan of standing for over eight hours without a public restroom or food vendors, but I do feel like I have a greater understanding of the universal human experience.

  • It was entirely incredible to spend time with two of my best friends for a week. And as God would work it out, I successfully avoided both the New York City blizzard and the Fargo blizzard (making many jealous that I was in the best place for New Year’s, and they were stuck in the worst. I did see the 100-car pileup on GMA though!).

Stay tuned (or keep your eyes focused) for more incredibleness to come!

Treasuring an Unconditional Compliment

December 9, 2010

It’s not too hard for me to compliment a shirt or new haircut, but how often do I simply compliment my friends for who they are rather than what they have changed?

I considered this yesterday after receiving a simple compliment. Two words. “You’re beautiful.” Not “I like your new jeans,” or “Your hair looks nice curly.”

smiling conversation

A genuine compliment inspires smiles.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate these compliments, but they are conditional. They beg questions like, “Will I still be desirable if I wear my old jeans or tie my hair back?”An unconditional compliment is not dependent on anything else for it to be true. It is a treasure.

My friend Amber is doing a blog challenge during the month of December, and yesterday she challenged us to bring joy to others. So along this theme, I invite you today to give someone an unconditional compliment. It may be the best present they receive all year.