Thursday, December 1, 2016


I have spent the majority of my days this fall purging my home. It was long overdue. I am far from a hoarder, but we had saved far too many things for various reasons. We got rid of things out of every closet, drawer, cupboard, bin and room. We took loads to charity, the garage, the landfill (old furniture and broken bikes), and sold stuff online. We went through every Rubbermaid bin the storage room and got rid of stuff that we have had forever and were not using.

I finally gave myself the grace to let go of some things I had been keeping "because Dad liked those on me" or "because Mom made it for me." I was ready to not stuff drawers any longer with cards that I once got that Sam has absolutely no interest in reading or keeping some day. Much of this doing is for him. I don't want him to have the laborious task someday of going through this stuff (and admittedly, much of what I sorted was just "stuff") and throwing it all away cavalierly. Better for me to triage it all and leave only what is meaningful.

Everything is labeled and easy to get it. Shelves are neat and not crammed with anything. Minimalism takes on a life of its own once the purging has started!!

The lightening of our load has not only left us with a very organized and clean house, but it frees me in a big way. I want how I live to matter, and what I choose to keep around me shapes my life. What I choose to let go of allows my life to lose weight. It has re-calibrated my soul with simplicity. 

In the purging, I find more space in my life for less.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


We had a super fun weekend with Gretchen and Sam on his birthday weekend. Sam had given us tickets to the Vikings game on Sunday for Mother's and Father's Day. It was an amazing experience being in the new stadium. Truly mind-blowing. The Vikings' loss was super disappointing, however.

The kids served fabulous meals and we took a walk and watched a truly good movie, "Concussion," and just generally hung-out together. 

Came home and starting today, I am upping my dose of chemo for 3 months to see if we can knock out those last tumors. That is my prayer: remission. Hope I don't have any more side effects than I already do.

Richie is in Mexico for the week so I am the keeper of the keys around here. It is quiet.

Thursday, October 27, 2016


I had a lung scan yesterday and it looked relatively stable. I always want to hear "remission" but I accept stable. One tiny patch had increased slightly in SUV uptake, but she was not concerned. I won't have to have another til January; I made the decision to have a brain MRI and a lung scan the same day. Lucky me.

Yesterday they found that my lung which had been slowly getting more and more fluid in it had taken a large leap. My doctor made a phone call and 15 minutes later I was over at Avera Hospital getting my lung aspirated. I felt like a maple tree being "tapped" for syrup. They showed me the jar. ONE QUART of fluid. He said, "You'll lose two pounds!" It looked like a stein of beer with froth on top!! So the past day and a half have been pretty uncomfortable, painful at times, as the lung is adjusting to this empty cavity. I am trying to stretch it by taking occasional deep breaths, but my whole side and shoulder ache. This is to be expected.

In a week I should be able to deep breathe without difficulty. ONE QUART! I didn't hear "sloshing around sounds" once!!!

Richie is going to Mexico in 11 days for our nephew's wedding. He's trying to brush up on his Spanish. His sister has a whole week of activities planned so he should have a great time.

We are having a beautiful autumn "last hurrah." Hope you are too.

Monday, October 17, 2016


We had a wonderful trip to the Harper's Ferry area. That Dubuque/Decorah/southern Minnesota area is just beautiful in the fall. My mom's cousin (their grandmothers were sisters) Dolores, since Mom has died, has sort of taken ownership of the Bolger family lore and I know we blessed her by letting her give us the tour and listen to the stories.

We saw Paint Rock cemetery where some ancestors were married in the now-torn-down chapel, and several are buried there. Then we went down into Bolger's Hollow, an unbelievable expanse of land with bluffs all around. The Hollow is where my ancestral home was first built in 1850 and a couple more were added as the family grew up and had their own homes. So peaceful and serene. I can see why my people stayed there for generations.

Then we checked out the Wexford church where my people went to Mass on Sundays. It has the grave marker of among others, my great-great-great-great grandmother Catherine Bulger (They changed their name spelling).  

Dolores regaled us with family lore that was rich and made the trip very special.

The rest of our trip was meandering without firm plans.....except to bless anyone who the Lord led us to bless, and we had 3 of them. It was so fun! It brings so much meaning to be willing to do something for others and be used. I love the intentionality of making road trips not all about our pleasure only but a way for God to put us in situations where he wants others blessed.

The funniest moment was in a restaurant. Our excellent and sweet server came back to our table to see if we wanted a dessert. She picked up the check and I said, "One lemon meringue pie, to split." Just at that moment, Richie handed her a large tip and told her what a great server she was and I told her that she was really good at what she did and praised her work. Her eyes got huge and a little teary. She slapped our check back down on our table and said, "Your pie is on the house!" Here we were trying to bless her and she blessed us right back.

Those are the moments that make travel more than miles.

We are off to Mayo Clinic for the week for Richie's legs. I pray that after 20 years of chronic pain, they may be able to help him. We are going with the same goal of making it a blessing trip.

Here are a couple pics.

Cousin Dolores
Dolores is pretty sure this old barn is original

More of Bolger's Hollow; you could have built a small town in it, but it remained in the family for generations

The ancestral Bolger home was on this site. It was torn down in 1900 and this home was built. It is still lived in.

Wexford cemetery

Morning along Dubuque's Mississippi Riverwalk

Dubuque's Riverwalk

I have to share with you "proof" that the Holy Spirit has our backs. We had been planning our first retirement trip for the past year. Savannah, Georgia. A year of anticipating seeing our best friends in Athens and then spending the week on the coast. In July, I had a strong check in my spirit. I didn't feel like we should go. It didn't make sense. Why was the Holy Spirit telling me to cancel this long-awaited trip? I "sat on it" for a week and then shared my feelings with Richie. Without understanding whatsoever, we cancelled our trip.

When was it supposed to be? October 1-8, the week the hurricane blasted Savannah. 

Monday, October 10, 2016


This is a shout-out to my young friend Jess. I saw her when she brought her kids into the nursery at church yesterday. She looked fabulous! She had done it! She had lost all of her baby weight! She told me (and I’ve heard the same lies for years) so many women told her that she just wouldn’t be able to do it, that your body just keeps the pounds on, that you can’t work and diet off baby weight…..they are such awful old wives’ tales, downright lies. No wonder women let their bodies go after having a baby.

But Jess did it and she is so thrilled that she did the work. She told me, “Besides wanting it for me, I really want to be a fit and athletic mom for the girls.” And she wanted to do it for her husband. I was so happy to hear that. The women who don’t do the work never look like the women their husbands married. I wonder if those husbands silently harbor great disappointment.

Jess, you look beautiful and fit and active and I am proud of you!! You are glowing! 

Sunday, October 2, 2016


Richie and I are leaving on a little road trip tomorrow....our first since retirement. Instead of just making a leisure trip, we are calling it a "blessing trip." We are making it intentional. We are asking the Holy Spirit to guide us to people along the way that might need a blessing of some sort. Words of encouragement. Prayers for healing. Words of affirmation. Money. Physical help. Whatever it may be. We are trusting that He will speak to both of us and that the trip might be one full of meaning for us. Nothing better than being a blessing to others.

We are headed over to my great-great-great grandmother's ancestral home in Harper's Ferry, Iowa. She came with her family during the potato famine in the 1850's. There is even a hollow named after them to this day. We will check out all the family haunts with my mom's second cousin whose ancestral home is still there too. Then we are going down to Dubuque---people say it is beautiful---and hang out there. We may also do the Root River Valley but rain is forecast. Will play it by ear.

I hope to share lots of blessing anecdotes with you!

Thursday, September 22, 2016


OK. I am back in business, home (why do the spiders think they can take over a home and make webs everywhere as soon as they realize you are gone?) to a house that needs a huge amount of attention. We have 31 things on our to do list. Truly. Yesterday felt so good...we got rid of some old 45-year-old furniture in tatters and took it to the dump. We moved Dick's desk  (well, not me but our wonderful friend and Richie's colleague Brandon) from the den upstairs to downstairs and now Richie is starting to organize a man cave. He has tons of books and stuff from his office that was just heaped down there when we left. A guy came to hook up cable TV in there and we have Dad's "pheasant" Lazy-Boy for him. There is a bed if he want to nap and cozy carpet and once he is organized, I think it will be a room he loves. Am buying him a laptop today as a retirement gift so he even has his own computer. 

My brain cancer is eroding! Praise God! Of the original 16 tumors last year,there have been only 5 as of spring left. Those 5 they have been watching. And yesterday, 2 of those were unchanged, 2 were slightly smaller, and the 5th, they couldn't find!! I am so grateful for this gift. I will have another lung scan in 3 more months and see what those are doing. The last report said "stable." I will take that again!!

The summer? Cool. Used the heaters every morning because the cabin was so cool. I was in the lake once. I wore shorts 3 times. We have had very hot summers in the past but not this one....will go down as the coolest (maybe 70 by afternoon) and rainiest we remember. I read maybe 25-30 books! The upside of cool and rainy days!!

We had 2 reunions, 2 weddings, a Twins game, a baby shower for my sweet niece Betsy, my brother's bluegrass June gig which we went into Duluth to see, etc. We were on the go. 
We took a field trip one morning that we have wanted to take for years. We found "The Lost 40" and walked the trails through it. It is 40 acres of virgin pine (some so tall you can hardly crank your neck back far enough to see the tops). It remains virgin timber because it was platted incorrectly when they did logging in that area decades ago. It is now a protected piece of land.

Here are a couple pics from the summer.  We don't take many any more. When Sam stopped living at the cabin with us in the summers, we don't have the camera out much! We did not capture any pics of our mama deer and her twin fawns, but they walked by the front windows a few times. We saw plenty of herons and loons and often, an eagle.

Dick in the LOST FORTY
Mornings on the lake were so quiet

Me in the LOST FORTY

Dick and Sam built this cool new fire pit near the shore.

A snapping turtle crossing the road

My brother Mike's amazing bluegrass band, ROADKILL BOYS. Mike is in the Coke shirt.

My physical strength is still poor from the steroids eroding my muscles. I can't bend or pick up anything or get a pair of pants on or squat without a lot of pain and having to hold onto something. My balance is bad because the radiation affected my inner ear. I have some vertigo. I need to get a hearing aid now because of the inner ear issue. That does not make me happy. I feel like I am 80 years old some days. Nothing can be done about the vitreous detachments in my eyes. I long for clear vision again. 

That said, I have been granted LIFE right now and I will live with these deficits until such a time as God chooses to heal any of them. My husband stands in the gap for me about anything I cannot do. Anything I struggle with, he just picks up the slack. He is a blessing.

Sam has a new part-time job that I pray with grow to "big and prominent" one day soon. It is a long-story God thing how it was thrown in his lap. He and former NFL Quarterback Sage Rosenfels do a 20-25 minute podcast on the new website LOCKED-ON (Sam does it solo on Tuesday and Thursday). They talk Vikings. Angles, predictions, after-game breakdowns, inside scoop from Norm Zimmer that Sam gets at press conferences, etc. It is good stuff. Their  "listenership" is growing daily and they need those growing numbers to continue.

These duos have been formed all over the league for every team for the NBA and the NFL. He is in some astute company. Paul Allen, the "voice of the Vikings," was asked first and he declined so Sam was asked!

If any of you are Vikings fans, you will enjoy it. Check it out! The podcasts are at

There is a summary of that day's topics under each podcast. Even if you don't have time to listen to the whole thing, your going to that podcast and clicking on it counts toward their numbers. If you check it out, thank you!

Happy autumn!!