Archives for : Savor the Moment

What is so Rare as a Day in June?

What is so rare as a day in JUNE???

Then come weddings, graduations, and celebrations GALORE!!!

School’s out, we’re free, time to loaf, and much MORE!

And speaking of weddings, this month’s wedding photo is from our Webmaster, Brad Tombers, who happens to be a wedding photographer!

Check out Brad’s photography (wedding and otherwise) at


We’ve all got a favorite WEDDING GLITZES story.  In honor of June, the most popular month for weddings, here’s Mary Z‘s favorite:


Love is in the air in June! Statistically speaking, there are more June brides than during any other month of the year. Weddings, no matter the month are usually not without “hitches or glitches,” and if something can go wrong…it usually does on the couple’s most treasured day. I am chagrined to admit this forthcoming escapade, but at the time, the laughs were worth every minute of the evening!

Many years ago when the Mall of America first opened, a girlfriend, Mary Jo, and I decided to stay overnight at the Embassy Suites near the mall and have a shopping weekend. Being nosey and looking for some fun, after dinner one of the evenings, we decided to see what might be going on in the hotel. All dressed up and strolling around, we discovered there were three wedding receptions happening that evening.

We wiggled and giggled our way into each one, checked out the wedding cake at each, and decided the cake looked the best at the last one. We joined the reception, ate cake, and made small talk with those around us. As everyone hit the dance floor, we hit the dance floor, too. It was there that, unfortunately, Mary Jo’s cousin happened to be dancing right next to us!  Somehow Stephen was a distant friend of one of the people in the wedding party!

Surprised, Stephen said, “What are you doing here?”


We were gate-crashing, and we were forced to own up!                 ~ Mary Z.




This month we are pleased to welcome Shelley Johnson, a vivacious mom, homemaker, and speaker.   We think you’ll enjoy this idea!

Faithbook Challenge for 2016

Have you ever made a Faithbook? It’s a book that chronicles all the amazing things God has done in your life. Have you ever taken the time to write down some of your personal accounts of how God rescued you, sustained you, strengthened you, and provided for you? If not, why not? Let’s resolve to make 2016 the year we follow the Lord’s commands to REMEMBER and SHARE all the ways He has worked in our lives and in the lives of those around us. It’s not only a positive reflection exercise that will change your personal attitude and perspective, it will be a blessing to all who read your stories for generations to come.

In Deuteronomy 4:9, Moses tells the people, “Be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen, or let them slip from your heart as long as you live.”

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 says, “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up

And David adds in Psalm 78:4, “We will tell the next generation the praise worthy deeds of the Lord, His power and the wonders He has done.”

And the prophet Joel says in Joel 1:3, “Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation.”

The Bible is pretty clear that we are to pass on our faith stories and not have them die with us someday. But how does one do that? It’s not as daunting as you may think. Start simple.

Take the time to write down the story of how you first came to know God personally. What led you to the decision to follow God? Did someone help you along? Did someone mentor you? In what ministry areas have you served where you have witnessed God doing mighty things? How did God provide for you when you needed something – money for necessities, direction in decision making, healing, or strength to get through an illness? Does that get you thinking and remembering?

If those around you don’t know your faith stories, make 2016 the year that you make a Faithbook and “tell the next generation the praise worthy deeds of the Lord, His power and the wonders He has done.”


Hunkering Down for the Long Winter

Hunkering Down for the Long Winter

By Sharon Sheppard

When my Washington friends hear that I’m from Minnesota, they give me a pitying look and predictably ask, “It gets really cold there, doesn’t it?”  or “You get lots of snow there, don’t you?”  One woman said, “I don’t know why anyone would want to live there!”

I could argue with her, but what’s the use?

I could tell her that in a recent ranking of the 50 states, Minnesota ranked second highest in the nation for quality of life.  It ranked highest in the nation for health.

Our poverty rate is one of the lowest nationwide, and the employment rank was 6th highest.  But all that most out-of-staters know about Minnesota is that it gets cold here.

Many Washingtonians (and others across the country) have never known the joys of bundling up (we know how to dress for the weather) and heading for the lake.  What could be more fun than ice fishing from one of those cozy (heated) fish houses that dot many of our 10,000 lakes?  Or tobogganing or cross country skiing or snowmobiling across pristine snow?

Few things taste as good as walleyes freshly caught out of a frozen lake, dipped in egg and crushed Ritz cracker crumbs, and deep-fried.  And few things rival the camaraderie of those frosty evening fish fries filled with laughter, conversation, and singing.

When I was a teenager we used to drive cars on the frozen lakes and ski behind them holding onto a rope that was tied to the bumper.  Not particularly safe, but great fun.

Our house was a little on the small side when I was growing up in northern Minnesota, and bedroom space was limited.  As the only girl in the family, I slept downstairs on the living room couch where it was warmer, thanks to our barrel stove—the main source of heat during those early years.  Dad had fashioned the stove out of a 50-gallon barrel—a common practice in that area.  It had iron legs and a factory-made door, and we burned wood in it.  One chilly night as I undressed for bed, I backed a little too close to the stove.  For the next few weeks I sported a tattoo on my bottom that read Farwell, Ozmun & Kirk—the name of the factory that manufactured the door.

P.S.  The tattoo is gone now, and all that remains are the warmest of memories.



Autumn is my Favorite Time of Year!

By Mary Zigan

Perhaps it is the fresh air, apple orchards, hot cider, campfires, and S’mores. More than that though, I like the way I feel when autumn beckons. In the Midwest we nest in, hunker down, and hope beyond hope we survive what’s coming…the blustery winter.

To capture the feelings that are so fleeting, every day of autumn counts. I think back to when my husband and I had our farm and we would take long walks in the woods together. Sometimes after breakfast Don would say, “Hon, would you like to grab your 4.10 and see if we can scare up some grouse?” I loved our times together in the woods. Guns in tow, we headed for the clump of red berry bushes. That was the most likely place to find these fowls eating. When Don heard a grouse drum, his gun was ready before I could say Jack Sprat. A fowl or two were bagged every time.

Autumn is a gathering time for more than a couple of fowl–although what a delicacy! The summer’s variety of produce needs to be cut, sliced, and diced to preserve all the goodness, and the kitchen once again becomes a hub in my home. Check out the Minestrone Soup Recipe in next week’s blog with fresh tomatoes, basil, and onion.  I think you will enjoy it.

Yes, autumn; beautiful fall sunsets, falling crisp and colorful leaves everywhere. It’s not uncommon to hear Minnesotans say, “Sure would like three more months of this,” knowing full well, it’s not going to happen. It is quite natural for our thoughts to become more centered on our Master artist, who has created a vast Sanctuary displaying His glory.

I am reminded of the Scripture (Psalm 104:24) O Lord, what a variety of things you have made! In wisdom you have made them all. (NLT)


Learning to Savor

Learning to Savor . . .

A number of years ago my husband and I visited Bryce Canyon National Park in southwestern Utah.  We felt dwarfed among towering rock spires and awed by the stunning beauty of it all.  Nearby I saw a little girl—maybe six years old—who was likewise amazed by all she was seeing.  Enthralled by the small loose rocks, she picked them up off the ground, examined each one in the palm of her hand, and marveled at their varied colors and shapes. 

“Sara, come on!” her mother shouted impatiently.  “We’ve got a lot of miles to drive today.”

My heart ached for wide-eyed Sara, who was savoring her surroundings to the fullest, immersing herself in the beauty of the place.  And I was frankly annoyed at the mother until I reminded myself that I had probably spoken those same words to my own children in the past:  “Come on, we’ve got a lot of miles to go today . . .”

A Hungarian proverb says, Who doesn’t appreciate the small things doesn’t deserve the big.


NOTE:  Sharon Sheppard will be teaching a seminar on Living in the Moment on October 3 at a Faith & Fellowship God Chicks Conference for women, hosted by Advent Lutheran Church in Maple Grove, MN.  If you are in the Twin Cities area, and would like to attend, email for additional information at




Happy Independence Day



The high price of FREEDOM

When our youngest US President, John F. Kennedy, uttered his famous pledge that our country would “bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, and oppose any foe in order to assure the survival and success of liberty,” it’s doubtful that he—or anyone else–had envisioned the true extent of the hardships our soldiers would endure during the Vietnam War.

As the costly conflict escalated, and for the first time in American history the media were allowed to dispense graphic footage of casualties to the public, the war became wildly unpopular, spawning massive demonstrations that sometimes became violent.   By the time this war ground to an unsatisfactory halt, veterans returned, not to the adulation of tickertape parades, but to scorn.

Among the thousands of young men drafted during the 1960s and ’70s and sent to the steamy, mosquito-infested jungles of Vietnam was my cousin, Randy Anderson, of Backus, Minnesota.  His return was a little bit different.

He was riding the Greyhound Bus on the last leg of his journey home from the war when the driver bypassed the hometown café where pickups and drop-offs were usually made and kept going.   A couple of miles out of town he explained to the passengers, “Folks, we’re going to take a little detour here, because we’ve got a hero on board.”

To the puzzlement of the other passengers, the driver turned his big bus onto a dusty, rolling gravel road and barreled through the countryside.  When he reached a crossroads, he turned into the yard of a small house and drove right up to the door.

To the applause of the passengers and a salute from the driver, Randy hopped off the Greyhound and into the arms of his family.

“Welcome home, soldier,” the driver said.

©Copyright, Sharon Sheppard, 2015








What Is so Rare as a Day in June

What is so rare as a day in June?” asked 19th Century New England poet James Russell Lowell.  “Whether we look, or whether we listen, we hear life murmur, or see it glisten.”

June brings some of the most eagerly-awaited celebrations of the year.  Graduations abound, dads are honored, and June is still the most popular month of the year for weddings.


Last evening Kimberly, daughter of my niece Kathy and her husband, Gary Aspen, graduated from high school.  The event was particularly sweet because of the long period of anticipation.  A couple of decades ago Kathy had struggled through the devastating disappointments of infertility.   Finally, the couple’s decision to pursue a foreign adoption brought hope, but also more months of forms, red tape, complicated arrangements, and frustrating minutia. -127808823936BC68E5


Then one memorable day my husband and I joined the excited family group waiting for Kathy to emerge from the Jetway, bearing a precious bundle she had carried half way around the world.

“I just can’t wrap my head around the fact that Kim is 18 and graduated,” Kathy says. “This was always something far in the future.  Then I blinked my eyes and that day arrived last night!”

Along with their Korean baby came a new culture, new traditions, and eventually a new Korean brother.

“We feel so blessed!” Kathy says.  “My infertility was all part of God’s plan to bring two bundles of joy from Korea to join our family.”

Some things are worth the wait.

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“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”   Romans 8:28   NLT





Preserve Those Special Childhood Moments!

Preserve those special childhood moments!

Ever had one of those special moments when your child did something so charming that it warmed your heart clear through?  Aah . . . if only you could freeze that moment . . .

PRACTICE SAVORING / Aim for the HEART ! / Get creative / SAVE CUTENESS

  • Ramp up your awareness so you’re on the lookout for small, but precious moments, and look for creative ways to preserve them.


  • Journal – Jot down cute things your child says, describe vignettes, little snippets of happenings, small acts that touch you, precocious words or actions. Record in a notebook, on your iPad, or on a scrap of paper.


  • Write a letter to your child on his birthday each year. Reflect on what you’ve observed about him and affirm him for progress.  Save a copy and give him a collection of all the letters for his high school graduation.


  • Record “A Day in the Life of (your child)” showing an ordinary day from waking up to going to bed–video, still photos, or journaled descriptions.


  • Keep a collection of the conversations or actions that touch your heart. Could be in a notebook, computer file, index cards . . . or ?


  • Save a collection of your child’s art work – from her earliest attempts. Jot down the child’s age on the back.


  • Jot down things that your child does that make you laugh!


  • Set aside a special box for meaningful mementoes: favorite toy, a clipping off her “blankie,” his first tooth, a clipping of baby hair . . . Remember to include a small note about the significance of the object.


  • Choose a few favorite photos and add some narrative for an occasional hardcover book (Shutterfly, or similar brand).


  • Make a recording of you or your husband or a grandparent reading a favorite book to your child. Could be audio or video.


Copyright ©Sharon Sheppard


The Spelling Bee

Following is a mostly-true vintage story about my experience of growing up in a small town in northern Minnesota and winning the county spelling bee.  It is told in the voice of the eighth-grader I was.  I sold it as fiction to the Minneapolis Tribune Sunday Magazine many years ago.  I was a savorer of words then, and I still am.




By Sharon Anderson Sheppard


If I’d have known that winning the school spelling bee meant riding up to the county seat with old Horace Botz, I would’ve spelled “connoisseur” with one “n.”  Even though I’d been secretly hoping all year that I’d win, nobody suspected that it mattered a lick to me one way or the other.  But whenever I closed my eyes, I could picture that brass trophy with my name on it.

Sharon Elizabeth Anderson it would read in gothic script, County Spelling Champion, 1950.

Some people are pretty.  But with freckles and kinda crooked teeth, I’m definitely not.  If I had a choice, it sure would be nice to be pretty.  But I can spell—backwards and forwards.

It’s a wonder I can spell, since my folks grew up speaking Norwegian and Danish, and you can still hear Mama and Daddy’s Scandinavian accents when they talk.    If you asked me to make some generalizations about Norwegians and Danes, I’d have to tell you that Norwegians are quiet and reserved, and they don’t talk that much.  On the other hand, Danes are emotional and gushy and high strung.  At least that’s the way it is at our house.  Daddy doesn’t talk much, and he is always calm and in control.  Now Mama is another story.  She gets excited over the least little thing.  She’s got a real soft heart.  I hope I turn out like Daddy.

Anyway, I was telling you about the spelling bee.  When I came home with the news that I was the school champion, Daddy just smiled and said, “That’s nice, Sharon.  Real nice.” But his eyes were shiny and I knew he was proud.  Mama, on the other hand, shrieked and hugged me and whirled me around the room, and there were tears in her eyes.  I’m too big to be whirled around the room.  No sooner had we got that over with when she started worrying about what I was gonna wear to the county spelling bee in March.

That night we pulled out some options from my very limited wardrobe and settled on a navy blue skirt and white blouse.  Unfortunately, the skirt had a small spot where a drop of bleach must’ve spattered on it.  But after Mama rubbed some navy blue ink over the spot, it hardly showed at all.  I just hoped it wouldn’t snow the day of the contest and smear the ink.

Everything would have been perfect if I hadn’t been stuck with old Horace Botz.  I mean, do you have any idea how embarrassing it is to have a man for a teacher, and an old one at that?  My girlfriend’s mother even had him when she was in eighth grade.  He can’t help that he’s old, but the worst of it is, he thinks he’s funny.  Teachers shouldn’t try to have a sense of humor.  Anyway, I had to ride all the way up to the county seat with him.  He said I could choose a friend to go along.   I chose Mary Ann, who’s fun and funny and my best friend, now that Shirley moved away.

Meanwhile, old Botz gave me lists of words to study from, and I didn’t let on, but I went over every one of those lists dozens of times.  You couldn’t stump me on a one of ’em.  Like I say, I can spell.  You might say it’s almost a disease with me.  I read a lot, but not very fast because I like to look for palindromes and make lots of little words out of big ones.  Anyway, I’m pretty good at spelling, but I didn’t know if I’d be good enough.

I’d been ready for almost half an hour when old Botz’s black Model A pulled into our driveway.  Mama kissed me (she doesn’t realize I’m too big to kiss) and told me she’d be praying for me.  Mary Ann was already in the car, tickled pink to be getting out of a day of school.  I was mighty glad to have her along, because she kept up a steady stream of chatter all the way up, and I hardly had to say a word.

When we hit the city limits, there was a big billboard that read Welcome to Shingobee Recreation Area, 127 lakes in a 10-mile radius.  By the time we had reached the high school where the contest was to be held, I had made 28 little words out of Shingobee, and still hadn’t exhausted all of the possibilities.

The first person I saw was Alice Klinghammer, the defending champion.  I would’ve known her anywhere from her picture in the county paper last year when she won.  She looked just as snooty in person as she had in her picture, and she was dressed like a persnickety city girl.  She was wearing a store-bought wool plaid skirt with a matching sweater and saddle shoes.  A tiny gold A hung from a fine chain around her neck, and her brown hair was all fluffed up in a stylish hairdo.  Sickening, really.

She was huddled with a couple of girlfriends, giggling.  The three of them sized me up, then whispered to each other and laughed.  I could feel my freckled face getting red, right up to the roots of my frizzy, dishwater blond hair.  Mary Ann squeezed my hand and whispered, “You’re gonna’ win, Sharon, I just know it!  There’s nobody here who can beat you.”

The pronouncer spaced us all apart so we couldn’t see each other’s papers for the written test, then he gave us each a sharp Ticonderoga pencil.

“All set?” he asked with a fake little smile.  No one said anything.  He took a deep breath and began.  My stomach felt like it had a couple of live frogs fightin’ it out, but after the first 20 words or so, I started to calm down.

The man droned on in his English-teacher diction, through chartreuse, supercede, candelabrum, and surveillance.  I struggled with “rotisserie.”  It didn’t look right.  Then the man said, “Pencils down, please.”  We took a break while the teachers corrected the written tests.

Mary Ann was waiting for me out in the hall.  I slurped a drink of warm rusty water out of the fountain, and water dribbled down my chin.  Across the hall Alice was putting on an act.  “Really, the words here today were so simple.  I think I got a perfect paper,” she bragged.  “I had so much fun at State last year!  I’ll just die if I don’t win!”  She straightened her gold necklace and whispered so loud every one of us could hear.  “I don’t think I’ll have any trouble.  These kids all look so young.  I don’t think there’s anybody here older than sixth grade!”  She patted her hair and looked at the rest of us like we were county hicks.  Which some of us were.

Old Botz came out and asked the contestants to come back into the room.  Slowly the emcee read the names of the top five scorers.  I swallowed hard.  Mine was the last one read.

The five of us lined up at the front of the room.  “Each word will be pronounced twice.  You will have ten seconds to begin spelling.”  The emcee licked his thin lips.  “Once you have spoken a letter, there will be no changing it, so think carefully before you respond.  Is everyone ready?”

We all nodded solemnly.  The five of us eyed each other surreptitiously.  (Bet I could get at least 50 words out of surreptitiously.)

“Charles, we will begin with you,” the pronouncer said.  His word was “paraphernalia,” and he spelled it correctly.  Douglas got “ricochet”; Margaret, “liaison”; and Alice, “renaissance.”

“Querulousness,” the man said when it was my turn, and I was grateful for an easy one.

On and on he droned, but nobody budged from the line.  Finally Charles went down on “vicissitude.” A few minutes later Margaret forgot the first “i” in “parliamentarian.”  She looked like she was gonna cry.  The rounds went on to more difficult words.  Finally only Alice and I were standing.  She glanced at me sideways, and she was beginning to look a little nervous.  I remembered that Horace Botz would probably have to ride along in my dad’s old Chevy if I went to the state finals in St. Paul.  Alice sailed through hieroglyphic and lachrymose and syzygy.  I spelled pusillanimous and bacchanalian and catarrh.

I looked at the clock.  We’d been standing for 30 minutes and we were both getting tired.  Finally Alice faltered on tatterdemalion.  As soon as I heard her say that second “l” I knew she’d had it.  The pronouncer shook his head slowly.  “I’m sorry, Alice.”  She shot me a look of total disgust, taking in my frizzy hair, my shabby cardigan with its skillfully mended elbow, my skirt with the almost-concealed bleach spot.  She heaved a huge, unsportsman-like sigh, then stalked over to a chair on the front row and plopped down, nose high in the air.

I took a deep breath.  All I had to do now was to spell that next word correctly, and the trophy would be mine.  I thought about the obnoxious Horace Botz with his stale jokes and his stale breath, and I toyed with the idea of letting Alice have it.  Outside the door, lockers slammed shut and the oak floor creaked under its load of hurrying oxfords and loafers.  I thought about my parents learning to speak English from their Norwegian and Danish parents, and about how my mom who was still working to teach my dad to pronounce his “th” sounds, and how she was probably praying for me right this minute.

“Photophosphorescent,” the man said for the second time, hoping I couldn’t spell it.

“Would you please use that word in a sentence?” I asked, guessing he couldn’t.

“His face got red and he cleared his throat.  “Umm…the object is photophosphorescent,” he snapped impatiently.  I thought about all of the little words I could get out of that one.  Closing my eyes, I spelled it out, slowly, cautiously, so as not to leave out a single syllable.  There was a long, and as they say in books, pregnant pause.  I swallowed hard.  My heart was trying to break out of its cage, and I could feel a trough of perspiration dripping down from each arm to the waistband of my skirt.

The pronouncer stepped forward and held out his hand.  “Congratulations, Sharon Anderson,” he said begrudgingly as he shook my icy hand.  “A splendid performance!”

“Didnelps,” I said to myself, spelling it backwards.

The ride home was embarrassing.  I shoved Mary Ann into the middle again.  Old Botz was babbling on about how proud everyone would be and how nobody from our school had ever won the county championship before.  I’d never heard him give a compliment.  I bet it prit’ near choked him.

It was drafty by the car door, and the wind whistled through the crack where the window wouldn’t quite roll all the way up.  The sinking sun reflected on crusty banks of snow and jackpine-ringed sloughs.  I shivered in my sweat-drenched clothes, wanting nothing so much as to be alone.  My woolen mittens never lost their grip on the brass trophy.  I thought about what Mama and Daddy would say, and I knew that they would be proud of me–very proud.

Mama was waiting at the back door.  I walked slowly into the house, holding the trophy behind me.  “How did it go, Honey?” she asked.  (She still calls me Honey.)  “Did you win?”

“Yeah,” I said.

After enduring a lot of high-powered hugging, which I’m much too old for, I headed for my room to find some dry clothes and see if I couldn’t eke another dozen words out of Shingobee.                                                                                 

© Sharon Sheppard


Capture Those Special Moments

Stop and Savor!

It’s tempting, at the beginning of a new year, to become so focused on self-improvement that we race around with lists in hand, frantic to prove we can achieve the latest goals that we set for ourselves.

While discipline is wonderful, balance is even better.

That’s why we are spending the month of January reprising some of our favorite posts from 2014—those we hope will inspire you to think about what really matters in life.  So slow down and savor.


Capturing Special Moments in Time

This post first appeared in our October 27, 2014, blog

           My stomach churned with excitement as our small plane circled the rocky island of KarmØy on the western coast of Norway, then gracefully touched down and coasted to a stop.

          As my husband and I and three local passengers made our way to the front of the plane, the pilot asked us in accented English, “Is someone meeting you?”

          “Yes, I answered tentatively.  But when we stepped out of the plane, there was no one in sight.

          We picked up our luggage, and made our way to the small Haugesund terminal.  When we opened the door, the waiting room was filled with smiling faces—all of them waiting for us.  They were holding a sign that read “WELCOME SHEPPARDS!”

          We had never met my father’s first cousins, and we had no idea of what to expect, but the days ahead were filled with emotional moments I knew I never wanted to forget.

          That first evening as we sat down to “evening coffee,” my eyes stung with tears as they sang grace, first in English, for our benefit, then in Norwegian.  Sitting around a table heaped with lefse, flØte kake, waffla, lapp, and a variety of other nameless confections heaped with whipped cream, it was clear they had pulled out all the stops in their preparation.

          The conversations were warm and welcoming, and the days of our short stay flew quickly by.  But there were times when I inhaled deeply the scent of rich coffee and savored the sounds of Norwegian folk songs sung by relatives to the accompaniment of guitars and accordions, and I said to myself, “How I would love to freeze this moment in time and take it home with me so I could pull it out and relive it all over again.”

          So I did the next best thing.  Each evening when everyone else went to bed, I did what I love to do most.  I wrote.  The combination of the day’s stimulation and multiple cups of strong Norwegian coffee kept me going far into the night.

          MY POINT IS THIS:  If you want to freeze specific moments, take pictures, yes, but Journal.  You don’t have to be a particularly good writer, just a good observer.

Photos are terrific, but words can preserve smells, tastes, sounds, conversation, and nuances of emotions in a way no photo can.

So capture special moments.  Freeze them.  Them pull them out and relive them all over again.  You only live once.

Or twice . . .


© Copyright, Sharon Sheppard