noticing joy on the surface of simple things … the evidence of holiness happening in the daily grind.

Wisdom For A Decade September 21, 2014

The Wise Woman’s Stone

A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream.  The next day she met another traveler who was hungry and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food.  The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him.  She did so without hesitation.

The Traveler left rejoicing in his good fortune.  He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime.

But, a few days later, he came back to return the stone to the wise woman.  “I’ve been thinking,” he said.  “I know how valuable this stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious.  Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me this stone.”

                                                                                                                                    from The Best of Bits and Pieces

There are a number of especially wise women in my life.  One raised me.  A couple are long time friends.  One is a couple of decades older, a few are a decade or two  younger.  I know this is a gift – to have more than one wise woman who will speak into your life.

Alice is one woman of wisdom who shares what I have to look forward to, prior too each decade birthday.  On the eve of this 50th decade, I would like to pass along the wisdom of the decades I’ve received.

Prior to turning 30 I fought, kicked, bit, pushed, pulled, and attempted to ignore the fact I would not be 20something anymore.  Into this somewhat….ok completely immature and ridiculous behavior Alice the wise woman spoke.

“Laura, the 30’s are the age of wisdom and beauty.”

Well that put a different spin on things.   And so the decade went, where I realized some of the beauty she spoke of was inner, not just outer.

Prior to turning 40, there were no tantrums.  Yet, I wasn’t anticipating what sounded like an older-ish decade with any enthusiasm.  I called Alice.

“Hi Alice,  I was wondering if you had thoughts on what I have to look forward to in my 40’s?  You told me the 30’s would be the age of wisdom and beauty, what are the 40’s the age of?”

Her reply:  “Ugh, aging.  And denial…about aging.”

“Really?!”  I said with a look on my face that  appropriately reflected her answer.  “You are telling me that I am going from wisdom and beauty to Aging and Denial?  Forget it.  I’m tapping out.”

After some thought she said something wonderful that I have found to come true…slowly… over the last 10 years. “Freedom.  You find the Freedom to know and be who you are.”

This week, finishing up being “still in my 40’s” (and saying that A LOT), I contacted the wise woman.  Before I share what she said, there are two things you need to know.

  1.  My physician, Dr. David Thayer in Boulder CO,  has been my MD for 30 years.  The last few annual appointments he said:  “My job is to get you to 100 and then you are on your own.”  I take him seriously.  The whole ‘over-the-hill’ thing I am rejecting.  I think this is the half-way-there mark.
  2. This wise and wonderful friend has spent this year getting to know Cancer, Chemo, Surgery, Needles, Drains, Drugs, Discouragement, Doubt, Pain, Nausea, Help, Healing, Hope, very personally.  I won’t lie, I hesitated calling.  Yet, I’ve known Alice long enough to push hesitation aside.  You see, her wisdom & truth come from a heart and mind tuned into the Holy Spirit; from life experience and lessons learned through rough patches.  I knew I wanted what she had to give.

Here is the actual dialogue:

Me – still in my 40’s:
That time has come again.  Alice, what do I have to look forward to in the decade of the 50’s?
Can’t wait to hear what you have to say!
Hi Laura!

It’s so good to hear from you! ❤️

What to look forward to in the 50’s?

Grandchildren! 😀 But that element is outside our control and determination. However it is an effervescent gift beyond words!

By God’s grace my marriage survived the 30’s and 40’s, and I can say the 50’s is the most rewarding decade of all with my husband. Our love has deepened through trial and longevity. We enjoy hanging out together!

This is a quieter decade. Our nest is empty. And that’s okay.

Finally having the guts in this decade (where maybe I’ve grown a little bolder) to pursue God’s call to write full-time. And having the new maturity to cast everything aside that hinders the call (even the very good stuff) as I pursue His will and way.

Finally understanding His choice is the best possible one for me, designed for me — to bless others in His name — as I run the race He’s set before me. (And I fought tooth and nail to avoid his initial call! I was so afraid! 😩)

I think there’s less fear in this decade.

Greatest 50’s gift — God is gifting me with a significant life purpose as scribe. I don’t need to live vicariously and bug my grown kids to create my life. I get to live through my own life! 😀

Hope that helps as you step into a new decade sister! 🎉🎉🎉🎉

Talk soon.

Alice again – a follow-up reflection:
One more thing —

In my fifties I learned I’m vulnerable to disease. 😥

So now in recovery I try to view each new day as a gift and to be thankful for it.


Based on this wisdom, I think tomorrow may be the beginning of the Best Decade Yet!   I decided I’m going to strap on my Great Anticipation Cape and leap forward with feet flying, arms flailing, and shouting:  “HERE’S TO BEING HALF WAY THERE!”

The Hubby and The Ham Balls May 16, 2014

Filed under: Birthdays,Cats,Creativity,Fear,Food Stories,My husband,Uncategorized,Writing — lauradegroot @ 11:44 pm
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Disclaimer for my vegetarian/vegan friends:  the following contains material of the meat type.  In no way is it meant to offend or gross you out.

The Vitamix earned its keep.  Today it ground up the last of my ham.

I’ve owned this bad boy for approximately 6 weeks.  The majority of its life in the DeGroot household has been spent pulverizing seeds, blending fruit, and smoothie-ing kale and spinach into our breakfast (pictured below).  The Vitamix came with a recipe book which I’ve read more than once.  Most recipes take less than 5 minutes which means a fresh batch of hummus for a snack, lunch, or appetizer is always an option.  Because the hummus is so delicious and simple, garbanzo beans show up on my grocery list all the time.   That is, until I came home with 2 more cans and when I put them away I realized I already had 6.


“Settle down with the garbanzos now Laura.”  I know I know.  I always want more of a good thing and got a little crazy with chick peas.

The Hubby has had his eye on the Vitamix for some years.  Not a new one, but the one that he could possibly inherit.  Thankfully, the relatives who own said Vitamix are in great health.  No impending inheritance…  So I suggested we save up our “funny money” & birthday money to buy our own.  The Hubby immediately labeled an envelope,  we accumulated the funds, and recently purchased the item our children now can inherit!    (But not for MANY years girls).

I can’t decide if this marvelous machine is a toy or a tool.  Either way it is a creative outlet and helps me live out my love language:  “Love people; Cook them tasty food.”

Back to the ground up ham.  I did a small batch at first.  Used the pulse button on level 5.  I didn’t want to make ham glue.  When I poured…shook…well, kinda poured-shook-scooped the ham out onto a plate I felt like something special happened in my kitchen.  I threw a little into my almost scrambled egg.  I gave Pekoe the cross-eyed kitty a few bits in her bowl.  Calvin ate them.  I gave Pekoe a few more bits in her bowl.  (Rabbit trail…Pekoe will only eat wet food.  All her 11 years of life – no dry, no cat treats, however she loves ham and pancakes.   Cats Are Weird.) I did give Calvin one ham chunk even though he stole Pekoes.  And then I talked to the ham.  “I just don’t know what to do with you yet.”

I might be lonely.  Or just really excited about making my own ground ham.

Grandma Rozie came to mind.  She used to make such good meat.  That may be where my affinity for things made with ground ham started.  Ham salad, like tuna or chicken salad, was pretty common in the midwest, best served on a soft squishy buttered white bun.  Even better was ham loaf, like meat loaf, with BBQ sauce on top.  And then there are the ham balls.  Ummmmmmm.  My mouth is watering right now.  They too are baked with a sweet and sour or BBQ sauce of some type and because of their shape, every bite comes with sauce.

The credit for the idea to use the Vitamix to grind up that ham goes to…….The Hubby!   He suggested it in hope of getting some hamballs.  I debated, I procrastinated, I almost gave up and just sliced it.  So why the emotional drama over meat?

I was afraid it wouldn’t work and I would end up with nasty ham paste, a clogged up Vitamix, and wasted time.  That’s the truth.  Ridiculous fear in this profoundly mundane thing of life.  Truthfully,  fear (ridiculous or not) often has a stronghold in the somewhat and profoundly difficult things of my life too often.  I’m working on a project about fear Knots and fear Nots.  My hope is to discover, then have as my own, tools and truths to fight and conquer fear and anxiety.

I will reach a mile marker this year – getting half way to one hundred.  Some people when facing this age,  set goals and train for triathlons, conquering high mountains or long bike journeys.  My goal is to live the second half of my life un-afraid.  I’m training for that.  On my desk are notecards with 34 of the 365 verses where Scripture says “do not be afraid/anxious/worried.”  These are some of the tools and truths I hope to understand and use to run my race.

And, like I share the wonder of the Vitamix, I hope to share what I learn about what it takes to live un-afraid.

Back to the ground up ham.  I think I know what I’m going to do with it.  Its time to call mom for a ham-ball recipe.  Hubby, this is your lucky day.



Day 30: Food Love Stories November 7, 2013

Three Food Love Stories

Key Lime Love

When I turned 40 (yesterday…not really, a few yesteryears ago) my hubby threw me a surprise party.  He planned it via email in one week and no one blew it.  A handmade card from the girls gifted me with “go out with dad and we will stay home alone and pay for your dinner.”  My sweet near 12 year olds offered the gift of bravery and we took them up on it.  JR paid for dinner.  There were 2 calls during dinner which JR took,  passing on the updates from the brave ones.  Of course, they were in on the whole thing.

We pulled in the garage, I opened the door into the kitchen and in 2.5 seconds all of this happened:

  • I noticed the room was pitch black
  • The dog didn’t come to the door
  • The girls would NEVER have all the lights off
  • There was the silhouette of a very tall man dressed in all dark clothing
  • I panicked
  • The lights went on
  • 40 people I love shouted surprise
  • I fell in the doorway.

Horrific fear and delightful surprise slammed into each other.  The next 10 seconds all of this happened:

  • I saw my BFF  sitting on my kitchen stool
  • I went to her and started crying
  • I sobbed, “I LOVE SURPRISES”
  • She laughed and said, “I know you do”
  • I turned and saw all the people and couldn’t say anything
  • Then I saw the table full of everything Key Lime you can think of
  • I indignantly said to my hubby – who pulled off this wonderful surprise,  “Why did you let me order key lime pie at the restaurant?”

He said he didn’t want to blow the surprise over dessert!  It is the best gift he’s ever given me.

Hand Me Downs

When reorganizing my file drawer after moving into our little apartment here, I came across this envelope from my Grandma Rozie (Mother Mary’s mom).  Here’s what was inside:

  • One 4×6 card with a recipe for Never Fail Tomato Soup.  It has a swirly line under the title and this comment:  From Pella’s Choicest Cooking Recipes, green book.
  • “Leanne’s recipe – Delicious” on a Ciba Seeds note page with a recipe for something that has strawberries, yogurt, marshmallows in it and she took it for a potluck in R.Rapids Health Centre
  • 6 newspaper cut outs with recipes for Three Bean Salad, Rhubarb Blueberry Jam, Crock pot Barbecued Roast Beef, Sumi Salad, Creamy Rice Pudding, and Good Moist Coffee Cake
  • A Mutual Telephone Company  ‘tear off and remit with payment’ portion of the bill with a recipe for Penuche frosting on the back.
  • And a newspaper poem.  I’ll just share these few lines:

“All angels don’t have silver wings, Or long gossamer robes of white, Nor do they have haloes,  Of gold that glow both day and night.                                                                       There are those in polyester,  Who hasten to a sick friends’ bed, With love, a bowl of chick soup, And loaf of homemade bread.” 

Foodie language handed down through generations found in an envelope.  That explains a few things I love.

Crunchy Chili and Hard Tack

Michigan in the fall is spectacular.  They have colors there I’ve never seen anywhere else.  Michigan has two of the best things in my life.  1Pyc565026517m

I was just there in soup season, in my sweet spot.  Friday pizza birthday party night was a kitchen that slowly filled up with college students.  They came to celebrate,  meet and be met, and take part in dinner preparation.  I stood in the center of  kneading bread, chopping veggies, grating cheese and thinking, ‘life doesn’t get much better than this for me.’  I laughed when the girls pulled their dough covered hands out of the bowls asking why ‘hers looks different from mine’ and I remembered the missing 1/2 cup of water.  I thankfully handed the many blocks of mozzarella to ‘i want to do something’ helpers.  A meaningful conversation happened by the sink as one shared a piece of her life and learnings so kindly with me.   When it was time for assembly the volume increased around what would go on first, last, on half  or the whole thing.  Evenutally we ate the pizza creations, opened birthday gifts, shared life stories.

A day later, JR and I arrived at the house loaded with groceries once again and started some beans to soak overnight and prepare ingredients for chili the next day.  Prior to church Sunday, we threw ingredients in 2 crockpots and turned them on high.  What smelled good when we returned for lunch turned out to be chili with hard beans.  I took out a pot and poured one crockpot full into it and boiled away.  Even after 2 hours in the crock pot and an hour on the stove the beans were not very done.  Turns out that crunchy chili went well with the missing baking powder cornbread (aka: hard tack).  Yet, this less than perfect food didn’t take away anything from the joy of sitting around the table with my family and their community of delightful friends.   

Getting the food, making the food, eating the food…this is the love language I speak.



Day 16: Sweet Newspaper Recipes October 17, 2013

Final Button 3I worked for a hospice organization in Boulder for 3 years before moving.  Hospice is meaningful, holistic healthcare during a sacred season of life.  The nurses, chaplains, certified nursing assistants, social workers, grief counselors were nothing shy of remarkable.  They changed me.  One of the phrases we commonly threw around was ‘eat dessert first.’  It’s like an end of life love language.  Except that I think it can be applied to everyone.  Life is fragile, and in God’s economy – not all that long here on earth.  Even if you aren’t going to eat it first, at least eat it once in a while!  I’m certain my sentiment would be batted down by the likes of Jillian the nazi trainer, in moderation…dessert is necessary in the world I live in.  You’re welcome to visit my world anytime!

Tonight and tomorrow night I share sweet newspaper recipes.  (See Day 15 for main dish newspaper recipes)  I have no dates to reference for when I cut these out of the paper though the newspaper pieces are yellowed, so its been a while.

Don’t you love when you find something that’s been lost?  I had that experience today, danced a little kitchen jig, because I located the missing recipe for Chrisar’s restaurant Almond Joy Torte!  I make this for special occasions and special people.   The last ‘special’ was Jessica R’s birthday.   I’ve never been especially great at presentation which is why this show off recipe is a favorite of mine.  A very simple technique on top makes it WoW.

The restaurant Chrisar’s  hosted a romantic dinner for JR and I a time or two, always with this dessert.  It was in a historic house in old town Longmont CO.  It’s no longer there, though I believe  another restaurant took its place and may still be serving this treat!

For you fellow love language foodies, there MUST be a special someone or sometime soon that you will want to whip this little number out for!

Chrisar’s Restaurant Almond Joy Torte


  • 1 1/2 cups toasted almonds chopped fine
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted butter or margarine


  • 1/2 cup canned coconut cream (usually found in the grocery by the grown up drink mixes)
  • 3 oz white chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine cut into pieces, room temperature
  • 3 cups lightly packed medium shredded coconut


  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 3 Tlb butter or margarine
  • 2 Tlb light corn syrup
  • 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped
  • 2 oz vanilla candy coating, melted


FOR CRUST: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In food processor, coarsely chop almonds, add brown sugar and butter, process using on and off until finely chopped.  press mixture firmly into bottom and half way up sides of nine-inch spring form pan.  Bake 10 minutes.  Cool on rack.

FOR FILLING: Bring coconut cream to a simmer in a heavy small saucepan.  Reduce heat to low, add white chocolate, stir until melted.  pour into medium bowl, whisk in sour cream and butter, until both melt and mixture is smooth.  Stir in coconut. chill until filling is very cold but not set – about 1 hour.  Spoon filling into crust, smooth top and refrigerate until set.

FOR TOPPING:  Bring first 3 ingredients to simmer in a heavy small saucepan, stirring frequently, reduce heat to low.  Add semi-sweet chocolate and stir until melted.  pour topping over filling evenly.  Quickly spoon melted white chocolate into parchment cone  (I use a small baggie and cut of just a tiny corner.  I don’t own parchment cones!)  pipe in parallel lines over topping, spacing evenly. (see photo – I start on the edge and go round and round making smaller and smaller circles until I get to the center. )   Here’s the part that makes it WoW:  To form a decorative pattern, take a toothpick and pull it from the center to the outer edge.

Wow…that’s a really big picture of my newspaper recipe.  I’ve simply got to take a WordPress class.

This is rich enough for one night.  Tomorrow night…sweet newspaper recipe number 2.

You’re thinkin now of that special someone aren’t you? O yea – I know.

Almond Joy Torte



Day 8: Thing 1 and Thing 2 October 9, 2013

Final Button 3Very early in the morning 21 years ago today, I had an excessively long needle plunged into my spine.  “Bring your knees close to your chest,”  said skinny nurse.   “OK,” said  I, the one who has 70 pounds of bulging baby belly between said knees and chest.  This was an impossible feat and the most fearful part of that day’s excitement.  I was most terrified of falling off the cold metal table that I was laying on sideways.  It was about as wide as a  kitchen counter top.  I was about as wide as a Barnum and  Bailey circus tent.  I considered my current unbalanced state of being – a reasonable thought – and the speed at which I would fall off vs the reflexes of skinny nurse and anesthesiologist with excessively long needle in his hand.  No doubt, I would have splashed on the floor.

Meanwhile,  JR was scrubbing up and dressing in surgery blues. My parents were at the end of their 15 hour drive.  They started the MN to CO journey 1 hour post a phone call that October 8 would become the day for celebration.  Babies were coming.  Very early October 8, 1992  JR was ready to cut the cords, my body was successfully numb from the chest down, my was mother in the room standing next to the pediatrician (whom she had previously worked for), and my dad, waiting in the wings.

“It’s a girl!”  Then:  “Make that baby cry” were the 1st 7 words spoken by the doctor.  One minute later (geez thanks for the breather) “It’s another girl!”  That surprising statement was followed by a screaming baby who peed on the doctor.  Thing One and Thing Two showed up at 5 pounds 1 oz, 5 pounds 2 oz later that early morning.     Many know the tremendous relief, joy, love at first sight when those infants show up on the outside.  That was true for us as well.  I only saw them for a minute, then off they went with their daddy for weigh in and check up.

The next thing I remember was that starving feeling, and the non-existence of heartburn.   Weeks 35-37,  TUMS were my best friend and primary food source.  No more pasty powdered tablets,  Bring on the coffee and substantial, even spicy food!   I really did have a cup of sweet powdered coffee happiness in my new mother mug as soon as I hit my regular room.

My desire for being fed was soon overshadowed by these tiny babies need for their first meal.  I shall not bore you with the personal details of learning to feed a 5 pound baby with something you don’t prepare in a kitchen.  I will simply comment that the learning curve was steep the first few days.  I’m certain it was simpler to make my first meal as a new wife.   It was special to love those little ones during breakfast ,snack ,lunch, snack, snack, dinner, midnight snack, 3 am snack 5 am snack each day/night.   True confessions however,  after 2 weeks, the meal time was still sweet,  the sleeping for an hour and a half at a time became unsustainable.

Every year on this date for 21 years, I have made celebration food for T1 – Lyndsay Grace and T2 – Lauren Elizabeth, the non-matching  focuses of my affection (after Jesus and JR).   Tonight I find myself 1300 miles from these remarkable young adults.  I love them even more than that day with the long needle and skinny metal table.  There was no celebration food prepared  in Delray Beach FL by this mother.  There was however celebration food prepared in their college town.   Last night Lauren and her housemate Liza cooked up a birthday dinner of Chili and Mother Mary’s Cinnamon Rolls – Laurens first solo roll out!   I participated by phone support, negating the first unsuccessful proofing of yeast and cheering on the second successful attempt.  No one is exempt from learning to cook by trial and error. This evening I’ve just been informed that Kathryn, another housemate, made this years birthday cake,  Banana Chocolate Chip Cake with “yummy frosting!” Thank you dear Kathryn for taking on this special task.

I asked each of them separately what they would have requested I make this year.   Lyndsay would have asked for Ice Cream Cake and Homemade Pizza.  Lauren said:  Calzones or homemade pizza, yummy salad and Dairy Queen Blizzard for dessert.   Though they look different, their taste buds are  hard to tell apart!

Here’s to you Thing 1 and Thing 2.  I hope today was extraordinarily splendid as the two of you are.

Love Your Mother.

ps…I will make celebration food for you and friends when we come.   Birthdays have extensions once you are an adult.



wa·ter·shed (noun) 1. an area or ridge of land that separates waters flowing to different rivers, basins, or seas. 2. an event or period marking a turning point, a change of course.

Life with Emily and Matt

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Professional Freelance Novel Editor

created for the love-light.

stories of a life captivated by an imaginative, creative God.


noticing joy on the surface of simple things … the evidence of holiness happening in the daily grind.

Don't Ask the Fish | Christian Daily Devotional

noticing joy on the surface of simple things … the evidence of holiness happening in the daily grind.

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