Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Little Things

I chose to have my last day of blogging about inspiration be about the little things. I was inspired today when, at my sister's house, she showed me some decorations she MADE for Easter. When I first walked in I assumed they were store-bought. They were completely adorable, and made the house look festive and ready for Spring. She's good about those little extras.

What a little thing I can do that will make the day special? What's a little thing you can do?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Warm Temperatures

I realize I talk about the outdoors a lot, but nature is very inspiring to me.

Today I walked out of the office building where I was working, and I felt the warm air surround me. A nearly tropical breeze greeted me and I believe I audibly said "yeahhhh."

Before I knew it, I was singing out loud. This is NOT something I do regularly or even rarely. The warm temperatures inspired a soul-bursting positive attitude in me.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Unexpected Kindness

I always go over my grocery budget for the week. Somehow extra apples, pears, oranges, and grapefruit seem to hop in my cart as I pass through the produce aisle.

Today I was over my limit, and unfortunately I only brought enough cash for the budgeted amount. I opted to pay with all the cash I had, and then put the remaining balance on our credit card.

Now, the remaining balance wasn't extravagant. I think all in all it was $1.86 over. I told the cashier, "I'll put all this cash toward it, then put the remainder on the card." She did some fast typing and before I knew it, she was handing me change back. I'm sure I looked as puzzled as I felt. She then explained that she put in an extra coupon for me. I didn't have to scan my card at all!

I was touched by her kindness, and it made my whole day.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Arts

Namely, Michael Buble.

Tonight Zac and I went to see Michael Buble in concert in St. Paul. It was amazing! The night was full of great music, and I don't mean it was great music because I liked it, but I mean it was exceptional music performed by very talented musicians.

I sometimes forget how inspiring it is to be around the arts. Throughout the concert, I felt myself moved to make my life less ordinary and more special. Michael was having such a fun time performing - it was evident in each moment of the concert. I want to carry that joy with me, and recognize not only which parts of my life currently contain that joy, but also which parts of my life need a little more of that joy.

How can I make the mundane things in my life more beautiful? What could I do to jazz up even the most ordinary things, like laundry day? Should I turn up my favorite tunes and do a little salsa step as I put the clothes in the washing machine? Should I buy some flowers for the table, just because? Should I slow down a little and smile more often? Should I whistle or hum to myself as I walk through the grocery store?

Check out what the opening band did to make life less ordinary for some people who were just taking the metro home one night after work: Naturally 7

I'll be on the lookout today. I hope you will too. Let me know what you come up with!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Long-lasting Friendships

Today I had the privilege of hanging out with some of my teammates from my year of Team Ministry with Youth Encounter. It's been almost 7 years since we met, and we love getting together when we can. Today I got to see Sarah, my teammate who now lives in Iowa; Jennifer, my teammate who now lives in Tennessee; and Deron, my teammate who lives here in the cities who attends the same church as Zac and I. It was so good to be together!

One of my favorite things about hanging out with this group of people is how comfortable I feel being around them. They all have seen me in my best and worst moments, so I don't have to try to pretend to be someone I'm not. I can relax and just be me, and I know they'll love me and accept me that very way.

It's exciting to know that I have friends who shared such a life-changing experience with me. With one word we can transport ourselves to a certain situation or town that we were in when we traveled together. We have to use fewer words to recollect those memories because it was a shared experience.

It's fun to think about what our group will be like in 5 years, 10 years...50 years. I hope we still will be getting together and enjoying each other's company!

Friday, March 26, 2010

My New Shoes

I needed shoes to wear with my new pants. Yes, I did buy pants without having decent shoes to wear with them. Well, today when shopping with some friends, I spotted the pair I wanted. I climbed over part of a shoe aisle just to get to them fast enough. They intrigued me. I picked them up and loved them more.

I have new shoes. They're inspiring and make me feel pretty. Everyone needs a little of that now and then. :)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Blind Side

So many people raved about this movie, and now I see why. The Blind Side just arrived at the cheap theater near our house, and Zac and I saw the movie tonight. I've gotta say, it deserves every award it won. This movie was touching, moving, and inspiring. What more can I be doing? Who around me needs help? How can I use what I have to serve others?

See this movie. If it's not in the theaters near you, buy this movie. You won't be disappointed. :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring Growth

I was in the backyard and noticed that the Irises are up! Not only are they poking through, but they are growing strong! These are special Irises because they came from Zac's parents' house; we transplanted them just last year.

Upon further inspection of the yard, I also saw our tulips breaking through the ground. Patches of grass are turning green too - it's all so wonderful!

I'm getting excited for Spring and Summer. I have a renewed energy for taking care of the yard, and with this inspiration I hope to do great things!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"OHHhhh, I get it!"

There are no words more beautiful to a teacher's ears than these. In my 4th Grade class, we've been studying the area and perimeter of rectangles. Many students are having a hard time keeping these two straight, and I have had moments where I felt like a failure as a teacher.

Today we did a very hands-on activity to find the area and perimeter of some rectangular shapes. This was a project morphed from a project my neighboring teacher did and some thoughts Zac had. Well, as we began to do the project, I heard one girl who was really struggling with the concept say "Ohhhhhhh, I get it!" Her face showed that the light bulb truly did click on for her. What a joy to see that! I felt inspired to keep giving it my all, and to try new and different things so that more light bulbs would click on.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Looking Up

We pulled out of the Cub Foods parking lot and stopped at the red light. Bored and ready to get to my destination, and I was feeling anxious about being late. I looked up at the sky, and my thoughts stopped in their tracks. There above me sat the most serene, gentle blue sky. It was the kind of sky that had small, soft clouds scattered across it. The kind of sky you want to snuggle your face into like a big pillow. I couldn't pull my eyes away.

How often I forget to look up! I blame this forgetfulness, in part, on the fact that I live in the city. Here we don't have the open views like my hometown, so I have to make an effort to look up. Each time I do look up, though, it proves rewarding.

Look up. Get inspired.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


It's hard to find something inspiring today. Maybe that's why it took so long to write this. I have two choices - I could challenge myself and dig for something that is somewhat inspiring and try to make it look to you like it's very inspiring, or I can admit uninspiration. Deinspiration? Well, chalk it up to the fact that there must be uninspiring times in life to make the inspiring ones stick out.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

My Neighborhood

My neighborhood inspires me. As I walked along the sidewalk this morning, the sun brightened all the houses, and the blue sky painted color between the bare tree branches. I love our neighborhood! I walked by all sorts of houses, but the house I liked best had a little baseball glove and a baseball laying in the driveway. I wonder how those ended up there. Did someone get called in for dinner last night, and the toys were just dropped? Was a father outside with his son this morning before I walked past? The culture of our neighborhood is inspiring, and I can't wait to see more people interacting as the weather gets warmer and we all spend more time outside!

Friday, March 19, 2010


A quick call to some friends on the way home from work, and my Friday night was booked. I don't often do spontaneous things, but it sure energizes me when I do! My friends and I ordered in pizza and then went to go watch Zac's band play. It was inspiring to just up and go!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

My Husband

I couldn't go the whole month and not mention Zac! Zac inspires me in so many ways. Watching how he lives out his faith in Christ inspires me in my walk with God. Seeing how he loves people, and the patience and compassion he exhibits is compelling. He has miraculously drawn out the good qualities in me and helped me work through the things that weren't so beautiful. He inspires me to be a better person. As cliche as that sounds, it's 100% true. Thanks, Zac.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


After school today, I found out that a teacher I work with attends a church where my friend used to be a youth director. Well, not only that, but her son had my friend as a youth director when he was younger, and he starred in a few of my friend's silly youth group videos. Unbelievable! It's a small world!

This new connection served to inspire a feeling of home in me at this school. It's nice to know that a place I just set foot in has connections for me that go years back.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mrs. Harder

I love it when kids call me "Mrs. Harder." It's so official. It makes me feel like a real teacher. That's kind of silly, because I AM a real teacher. Will I ever feel like a real teacher instead of someone just posing as a teacher? Regardless, it's inspiring to hear "Mrs. Harder" throughout the day!

Monday, March 15, 2010


Today is inspiring! The weather is invigorating, the smell of spring intoxicating. Upon arriving home, I throw open the windows and stand in the gentle breeze wafting in. I'm all smiles. The sunlight dances on the walls, and I feel grateful for the sun and the fact that I'm home when the sun is still out. My feet lift off the floor as I jump around in excitement.

With the fresh air coming in, I mix together a smoothie. Ripping lettuce for a salad, I think of all the fresh produce to come in the months ahead. I sit down and again feel the cool air on my skin.


There is simply everything to love about spring and those first nice days. We have been waiting so long! It's a sweet, sweet day. I have enough inspiration for the rest of the month!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

"Amber and Zac's"

My friends in Bismarck have a little girl who is two and a half years old. The change in her vocab since I saw her in August is simply unbelievable! At one point yesterday it was just she and I in the car while her mom filled up with gas, and we carried on a conversation the whole time. I'm in awe. At one point she was getting tired and she said "I wanna go your house." I said, "I live very far away, we can't go there tonight." But she remained adamant that she wanted to go to "Amber and Zac's house."

It dawned on me then that I am making an impression on this little one. The things I do and say and the way I treat her are memorable for her. It inspired me to care about her even more, to listen when she talks to me and to play when she requests that I play with her.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Good Night's Sleep

At my friends' house in Bismarck, I sleep in their downstairs bedroom. It's a sub-basement, and it's incredibly cozy. When you snuggle in under the covers, you feel like the earth around you is giving you a big hug too. I sleep so soundly there. When I woke up this morning, I felt rested and ready to go for the day. The sun was coming in the blinds and reminding me of the day's adventures ahead. Here I go!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Road Trips!

Road trips inspire me! Today Zac and I set off for a 6-hour car trip to Bismarck, North Dakota. To make a good road trip great, you need to choose your company wisely, collect some great cruising tunes, and buy some good junk food!

Our ipod is out of commission, so therefore to make this road trip great, I needed exceptionally good company and good junk food. I had Zac, so that took care of the exceptionally good company, and we brought along Starburst jelly beans, chocolate Easter eggs, cookies, banana bread, and granola bars. Sigh. It was wonderful. :)

Within 15 minutes of leaving on our journey, I broke open the jelly beans. YUM! I tried to pace myself for the trip there and back, but they were Starburst jelly beans. What can you do?!? I love the feeling you get when you embark on such a journey. The road is ahead, and the responsibilities are behind. The forecast? A good weekend ahead!

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Jovial. That's the only word to describe one of my coworkers. He is such a joy to be around, and his laughter is contagious. He's one of those people that make you feel like you're the funniest person in the world, no matter how lame your jokes really are. Life isn't easy for him, and I know he has some hardships, but his joy inspires me to look on the bright side.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Day Off

Today Zac and I had the day off. It is wonderful to have a day off, especially when it's on a weekday. There's an increased feeling of freedom because most others in the city are working. Our neighborhood was substantially quieter when we went for a walk at 9am, and it just seemed so serene. Days off - especially relaxing, unplanned, prop-your-feet-up days off - bring me a lot of inspiration and joy.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


I had a really rough day today. It was the kind of day you don't want to remember. It was just plain awful, and I felt so weary that I was close to tears most of the day.

In my icky day, my sister came to the rescue. I haven't seen Zac since Friday, so I was feeling lonely in this house of ours. She came over and we pigged out together on Late Night Taco Doritos and Salsa con Queso. It all never tasted so good. We talked about the yucky day, and we laughed together too. When things got tough today, I had her hand to hold. Her presence inspired me to keep trudging along.

Monday, March 8, 2010


Today was my first official day as a 4th Grade Long Term Sub. I have been amazed by the hospitality and friendliness offered to me by my new coworkers. There are three other 4th Grade teachers, and they are incredibly nice and kind to me. I am inspired to do the best job possible because they have given me this huge opportunity and shown me such graciousness.

The friendliness of my fellow 4th Grade teachers and the entire staff at this school inspire me.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Clean Kitchen Counters

I don't know what it is, but when the counters are uncluttered in the kitchen, I get the urge to cook. It's such a relief to walk through the kitchen and not see a single dirty dish taking up all that counter space. I guess the feeling might be like a painter with a blank canvas in front of her. Oooh the anticipation of what to cook up next! And with all that counter space, I can easily cook two...or three...or four things at a time!

I absolutely love it. Today's uncluttered kitchen counters helped to make a delicious loaf of banana bread, some chewy oatmeal raisin cookies, and a pot of white chicken chili. I think I can still get some more out of those counters. I have some granola in the works right now....

Clean Counters with all their possibilities are inspiring.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Melting Snow

I am so encouraged by all the melting snow lately. After a week-long stretch of 40-degree temperatures, patches of grass are appearing in lawns and along roadways, snow patches on roofs are shrinking, and my favorite - water is continuously running alongside the curbs on its way to the storm drains.

I realized again today how beautiful that water is as it trickles alongside the curbs. It catches the sunlight and sparkles as it rushes down the slopes. Usually when we see water running alongside curbs during other parts of the year, it's because it's raining and the sky is overcast. Today the sun shone brightly, and reflected off the small streams of water. It made everything seem magical; it was almost as if the whole city were celebrating the warm temperatures and the onset of spring.

I like it. :)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Unplanned Weekends

The whole weekend sprawls out before me. I begin with a long walk outside in the fading sunlight. I plan to enjoy the tasty leftovers in the fridge for supper, then hopefully crack open a fantastic book that I've just started and already love. This is gonna be great!

Unplanned weekends are inspiring to me. I feel like I have all the time in the world for a plethora of projects that I've been wanting to get to but never seem to find the time. At the start of the weekend, it seems as though Monday is far, far off in the distance. All I can see are the free hours, ready to be enjoyed in whatever way I best see fit.

Finally finally the weekend is here! I waited so long! The pages are just waiting to be written...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Other People's Home Improvement Projects

You know what I'm saying! Last night we were over at our friends' house and they have been attacking their home remodeling projects with such fervor! They purchased a home built in the same era as ours and have been very diligent about their home improvement projects. Literally EVERY time we go over there, something drastic and new has been done. And I mean done, too. It's completed, the painter's tape is off the trim, and all the paint cans are put away.

Their work ethic inspires me, and their results inspire me to do more around our house.

Inspiring. :)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Today while teaching (I promise not all my entries will have to do with teaching) I encountered a peculiar situation at the end of the day. I was again subbing in Kindergarten, and at the end of the day, two older kids came into our class to assist with pack-up/dismissal. I saw both of these girls yesterday and everything was fine. Today it looked to me as if one of them had been crying. It soon became evident that she was upset, and even though she was trying to compose herself to read a book to the children, she couldn't pull it together.

I went over to her and said, "Would you like to just go take a minute outside the classroom? Sometimes I just need a minute." She took me up on the offer, stepped into the hallway, sat at a table with tiny chairs, and began to cry. She held her head in her hands and sobbed. I didn't know what to do - I was supposed to be directing kids to pack up for the end of the day, but clearly something was wrong with this girl.

After giving her a few minutes, I went over and said, "It looks to me like you're pretty upset, did something happen?" I didn't expect an answer - I didn't even know her. She spoke up and said, "My best friend said she didn't want to be friends with me because I'm different than everybody else." She began sobbing again. Her face was all red and her hair messed and sticking to the tears on her face. I tried to talk about it more with her, but truly didn't know what to say. I tried to talk to her a little bit about other friends, but then she said, "But she's my ONLY friend. I only have one friend."

Whoa. What do you say to that? I hope it works out? That's too bad? There's more fish in the sea?

Her heartache inspires me. Not in the "Inspiring" way of the previous entries, but more along the lines of a call to action. Her heartache compels me to care for those who are on the outskirts. Her loneliness prompts me to let kids know how special they are. Her tears inspire me to let each person know that it's good to be different, to be unique, to be who you were created to be.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


A little praise goes a long way. Today I taught in a kindergarten classroom with two other educators. While this is nice to have a smaller child-adult ratio, it's also intimidating as a sub to know if I'll measure up to the other teachers' expectations. After about an hour of teaching, one woman leaned over to me and said, "You are doing such an excellent job with the kids." She had no idea how much that meant to me, and that compliment helped my attitude throughout the day and gave me the confidence to be even more myself while teaching that class.

What a gift a compliment can be. Compliments are inspiring!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Introducing March

My 15 minutes a day in March? Taking note of the things that inspire me. Suggested by a dear friend, I hope this 15 minutes each day not only helps me reflect on the special things in my life, but also brings joy to your life as you read. This is going to be a trickier 15 minutes because it is going to require me to blog regularly (gulp!), and there will be some sense of accountability because you will be able to see exactly when I make my posts (double gulp!). I trust that this month will be good for all of us though.

Today's inspiration - great restaurant ambiance. In the last year, I have come to adore the French Meadow Bakery and Cafe in Minneapolis. There is something special about having dinner there. With lit candles (actual candles, not the battery operated ones) on each table, the restaurant takes on a cozy glow in the evenings. Pleasant wait staff bring out the bread baskets filled with tasty treasures to enjoy over light conversation. The Menu offers so many adventurous choices, it's hard to know whether to go with an old favorite or try something new.

When the food does come, it's truly a work of art. Brilliant colors and creative placement bring a smile with each dish. The first bite is heaven. Those to follow, even better.

There's something magical about it all. I feel so special each time I'm there, and I always have FANTASTIC conversations with those I'm with. We sit for hours, enjoying each other's company. It's hard to believe that life is still really moving all around us outside when the world is so full and peaceful inside.

Each time I go there, I walk away with a renewed appreciation for conversation, an inspiration to try new things and take risks, and a strong desire to return again soon.

Great Restaurant Ambiance. Inspiring!

February Reflections

February was such a fun month for me as I spent 15 minutes a day exercising. It was good for my body and good for my spirits. Most days my exercising was in the form of walks, but other days when I couldn't get my walking done in the daylight, I would work on arm or core exercises at home. It was transforming, and I hope to continue this trend in the months to come. I think that will be easy knowing the weather is only going to get better and better!