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!”

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 21: Sal, The Boys, And A Rainy Day October 22, 2013

Final Button 3Grocery Shopping is my staple happy space.  It was distressing when I didn’t find happy in the space people do grocery shopping nearby.  It’s not possible to pinpoint all the reasons why, but the grocery stores here are different enough in price, people, & etiquette that I would describe my early shopping as uncomfortable and unpleasant.

That is until I stepped inside The Boys.

Boys-Farmers-Market-Delray-Beach-FL-009If you notice the middle part of the sign – it says “Fresh Squeezed OJ Daily”.  One day I couldn’t resist driving by without getting some.  I pulled in the parking lot excited about Florida fresh squeezed citrus.  They have OJ a plenty and better yet – grapefruit!  But the juice was only the beginning of fresh squeezed happiness I found there.

Every visitor we’ve had gets to go on a field trip to The Boys.  Not everyone appreciates it like I do but I guarantee a unique experience.  I’ll give you, my reader, a virtual field trip.

The Boys  is a permanent indoor farmers market that  opened in 1988 by a family from NYC.  The first part of the experience  is getting into the lot and finding a place to park, without starting a scuffle or getting hit by a car.  As you enter from the road, there is a curb on your right with signs every 5 feet stating “NO PARKING ANY TIME” .  The whole curb is lined with cars.  All the time.   When you turn left into the lot, you have to use mad driving skills.  This lot is filled with impatient people, shouldn’t-have-a-license drivers, and mini carts scattered haphazardly.  I’ve learned the wisdom of heading for the North lot where its safer.

When you get near the door there is a table of $1.00 bags of fruits/veggies.  What is available changes daily so I always make a quick stop.  I’m certain most people have heard of “shopping the perimeter” to make the healthiest choices as most boxed, bagged, canned, and processed foods occupy the isles.  The Boy’s is counter-cultural as the center of the store – every isle – is stacked with fresh fruits and vegetables.  Last week I believe there were twenty plus varieties of apples; there are six or seven types of eggplant; mounds of tomatoes of every size and shape; piles of melons and a lady who cuts fresh slices off one for you to try.  There is fruit that looks like sea urchins, vegetables that appear alien, all of it delights every fiber of my being.

When you enter the store and turn right you walk through the bakery.  The cheese lady stands above her case of  specialty cheese and will slice  you up a sample.  When you turn left there are mountains of berries and cut up fruit station.  Next comes the coffee bean bar with the NJ coffee lady who begins with her brusque “what can I get you” and ends up sharing personal stories with me along with her coffee recommendation.  The back wall of the store has the $4.99 wine section next to the fresh OJ and grapefruit case and the beautiful meat counter.  There are 2 long hot bars with “prepared food” which must be a NY thing.  I see people stock up on containers of all types of main dish goodies from there.  Turn the corner again and the wall of seafood goes 1/2 way to the front of the store.  The other 1/2 is everything green and leafy.  The last side of the store has side by side check out isles and behind those, against the wall, are shelves of seasonings, sauces,  & specialty soda.

We arrived in So. FL during the unofficial beginning of Season.  (Season is when the snowbirds from way up North come way down South).  When Season is in full swing (January through Easter), the population doubles.   By the time I hit The Boys for the first time, it was November and plenty busy.  Taking a cart, though they are very small, proved to be impossible.  Waiting for my turn to move down the aisle – ridiculous.  I learned to take one basket on my arm that I could lift over my head as I twisted through the pushy cart pushers.  I smile and enjoy choosing each item that goes into my basket.  I am polite, but there is no room for long conversation.   Shoppers at The Boys are not conversation kind of people.

Several months into my trips to The Boys I came on a rainy day.  There was space in the parking lot, space in the aisles.   I returned my basket and grabbed a cart.  I said hi to Sal, one of the friendly store managers.  We shared a laugh as I told him about watching the man who got caught stealing a cart of groceries, quite the caper.   Sal shared it’s not uncommon for people to come in with their own plastic bags, fill them up (with the basics like shrimp, smoked fish, expensive cheese), and head out the door as if they paid.  After being in South Florida for nearly a year, that type of event surprises but doesn’t shock me anymore.  I mentioned to him that I was able to use a cart, a rare treat between November and May.  Sal explained the mystery and let me in on a helpful secret:  “It’s a rainy day.  You will always be able to use a cart on a rainy day, and before 8:00 am or after 5 pm.”

Thanks Sal, I love your fresh squeezed OJ and grapefruit juice, your produce, fresh local extra-large eggs,  the cheese lady and .99 cent cavatapi.  I’ve found my happy space again, during busy season, during the summer and even on a rainy day.


Day 18: This…Is Love In My World October 19, 2013

The weekend begins with a little of this…wine glass

While working with this…salsa ingredients

to make this…finished salsa

to enjoy with him…JR in South Dakota


Day 11: The Memory Holder October 12, 2013

Filed under: Food Stories,Grief,Joy,Loss,Peanut Butter,Uncategorized — lauradegroot @ 2:01 am
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The Memory Holder July 24, 2009

(This post was one of the first I wrote when I started a blog.  It was about the topic of Food being a love language.   It is worth repeating.)

Final Button 3My grandfather Ed Rozeboom passed away recently.  When my children were little we started calling him Grandpa Rosie because Rozeboom was a mouthful for toddlers. He lived long and finished well, going where he longed to go – the place where he is no longer an alien, but a citizen.  The Promised Land.

There was a funeral, with all the expected people, places, and casseroles.  Closure happened.  But now there is remembering.

I like this part. Because the end of his life was recent I think of my grandpa as well as my grandma often.  Here’s what keeps joyfully rising to the surface of these thoughts: food! Bringing lunch out to Grandpa on the tractor. Grandmas deep freeze in the sun room full of frozen candy from the previous holiday. The cellar in the basement where we put leftovers after big family meals.   Learning to make Grandma’s pie crust that she had no recipe for.  Camping & rolling coffee cans with grandpa to make home-made ice cream.  Summer and sandwiches with Valveeta; Grandmas thick sliced garden tomatoes. Garden Tomato and Valveeta sandwiches on homemade bread.  Peanut butter with butter on top of grandpa’s toast.  More peanut butter and butter and sweet pickle sandwiches on Wonder Bread – Grandpas favorite. Grandmas cookies and bars and candy jars. And pizza. Grandpa always brought us pizza.

After the funeral, our family left Iowa and headed for Colorado making a stop at The Pizza Ranch for dinner. Not because it’s the greatest pizza we’ve ever had, but because it reminds us of this man we loved.

I find myself thankful when I think of my Grandparents Rosie. Remembering is healing. And I am most delighted to find that food is the memory holder. Given that, I am sure I will never forget them.

Does food hold helpful memories for you?


Day 5: Happy Hour October 6, 2013

Final Button 3Friday nights have always been happy hour nights – drinks and dips.    There is always an appetizer or two, often salsa cream, cheese dip, layered bean dip, veggies and dip, something with….dip.  Tonight we are going to try making a new adult beverage that we’ve discovered here in South Florida.   Its called the Caipirinha and great for a tropical evening on the patio.  There will be salsa cream and chips, some praline Virgina peanuts and hopefully good conversation about today’s house hunting adventure.

There was a yearly Happy Hour that was my favorite and a fine example of food’s love language.  It happened during the season of Lauren and Lyndsay’s piano lessons.  Their piano teacher Willie H was and still is an artist.  She doesn’t have long slender fingers typically associated with pianists.  Yet I couldn’t help but watching her hands when she played her annual encore of “Bumble”, her original jazz version of a famous piano piece. Her fingers were made for speed.  Her soul was made for music.  Her heart was wired for igniting and fanning the flame of passion for piano in her students.

You would not want to be busy on the night of piano recital.  It was anything but typical.  Ok,  maybe the formal wear of the students and their mandatory clipped nails would be like any other recital but that is where the resemblance to typical ended.  The unfamiliar began when we arrived.  We were welcomed into a large room with Happy Hour going on.  Wine, beer, soda,  seltzer and a table full of appetizers were in abundance for  both the nervous and not so nervous piano protegé’s and their guests.  Guests and students shared dips and drinks while students took turns warming up on the shiny black grand piano.   Happy hour offered a time for settling in and settling down.  The food and drink made time and space for knowing and being known by others who were beneficiaries of the Artist’s influence in their lives.

Ages 5 to over 50 took their seat on the black padded bench and delighted listeners with their well prepared pieces.  The program Willie put together described the musical pieces as well as some of the finer and funnier points of the student’s life.  Some students used one finger at a time while others seemed to use their whole body.  Some played what was written on  the page, others wrote and played their own.  Some were accompanied by voice or strings or a second set of fingers on the piano.  All had been nurtured and encouraged by the artist herself to bring what is below the surface –  sometimes very deep and vulnerable – to the piano, to the space in the large room; to a place that becomes almost sacred as those who listen and connect to more than just notes and keys and chords.

Happy Hour at the recital said: “Welcome and wake up because the best is yet to come. ” The best was the music, not just performance, but practice and passion and fun in action.  When the music ended, the community continued with potluck dinner – and dessert of course.

Thanks Willie for the memories.  Cheers to you and all those you love with your artistic language of love.

Yes I know this isn’t Friday anymore.  I didn’t finish last night…  You can have happy hour any day you want.

“Salsa Cream?” you ask?  We have it often, and get others hooked on it.  Here’s how you make it:

  • Your favorite Salsa  (currently JR has Mad Butcher salsa shipped in cases from Iowa!)
  • Ranch dressing  ( I make ours with 1 cup good brand mayonnaise, 1 cup buttermilk, 3 Tablespoons or one packet of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix)
  • Pour salsa in a bowl, pour some ranch dressing on top, dip in your chips.

Top Ten List of Things I Didn’t Expect, Part 2 July 24, 2013

I did not dream about this list.  On one of my daily potty walks  with Calvin, (I walk, Calvin potties), I realized there were below the surface things I didn’t expect.  Here is the deeper counterpart to the list in part 1.  (see July 23, 2012)

1.  The rhythm is missing.  Seasons of weather give rhythm to the year – cooler color season, soup season, planting season, vacation season.  Here, it is always bathing suit season.  I’ve had a few soup Days, the planting happens backwards or continually, snow bird season takes up 1/2 the year and people come to FL for vacation year round.   Don’t misunderstand…I LOVE being at the water any old day and exchanging my work fancy pants for bathing suits.   I don’t miss the cold & didn’t expect to miss the natural changes which gave a reliable rhythm to my world.

2.   When I got married, I never thought about year 27.   I never considered what it would be like to drop my twins off at college 1200 miles from home; sing my sister into heaven; enjoy  a 16-year-old girl from Thailand living with us; pack up our home of 11 years and leave a state we had lived in for 27/40 year (myself/JR) and move to the nearly southest/eastest corner of the US  – all in a little over 1 years time.  And so I didn’t expect how meaningful, comforting, amazing the phrase, “I’m still here” would be.  It’s a highly repeated phrase we’ve shared the last 8 months. The phrase sits alongside gratitude for the friendship, partnership, mutual mercy and encouragement that has been flung back and forth between us.  I love my husband for better, for worse.

3.    I am capable of learning new things.  Not just about how to play sports, but about how to do life post kids in the house, post living in Colorado. How to do life here with a fresh white canvas to paint on and alot more awareness of who I am.

4. I am grateful for the funds to buy a lot of plane tickets.  Those connect me face to face with the people I love.  Physical proximity to family and good friends should not be taken for granted.   I did.  Forgive me.  Now I’m not.

5. Prior to moving, I was warned about Hurricanes, Alligators, Bugs – they’re all here.  No one mentioned the powerful instantaneous cow-and-horse downpours that happen here A LOT.  I’ve doubled the amount of umbrellas I own and have strategically situated them.  It is an awesome and beautiful display of the Creator’s beauty.  Rain appreciation club member here.  Who knew.

6.  Truly I HATE tight things – spaces, pants, bras, long sleeves, coats, and especially shoes.  Barefootedness feels like a type of freedom that I’ve been granted.  Barefootedness feels like childhood.  Great non-expectation.

7.  Henry’s beach, Santa Barbara California – home to many of my best childhood memories.  I’m nearly unexpectedly overwhelmed with gratitude  for the Oasis the beach is, on a holiday, on the weekend, on a walk.  I am as content  and joyful there now as I remember being when I was growing up.  Thank You Lord for this perfect, personal gift.

8.  Distance makes the heart grow fonder?  Yes it does.  So does watching my girls grow into remarkable young women via places I’ve never been, people I’ve never met, things I’d never do, experiences I’ve never had.  They are leaning into their lives full steam ahead.  I’ll take the Skype conversations over a phone call, and the individual visits over no visits at all.  In fact spending one on one time with each daughter has offered new depth to our changing adult relationships.  Didn’t see that comin…

9. The companionship of my dog in all of the unfamiliar is priceless.

10.  I’ve liked to watch birds on occasion.  Other than the shameless thief of the seagull nature, my eyes and interests have opened up wide for birds.  They are plentiful here and I’ve spent much time quietly enjoying them, appreciating & observing them.  Perhaps number 10 on the list points out the most unexpected of all, the relief and healing of having time to live at a sustainable pace and notice beauty, people, opportunity, blessing, potential.

And it took a move to Florida for this to happen.

I certainly didn’t expect that.



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.

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

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