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I’m posting my favorite recipe for Beef Burgundy, and a fun way to use leftovers — Beef Burgundy Cobbler with Bacon Chive Biscuits
Do you have a recipe that has burgundy wine for an ingredient? In my opinion, a delicious recipe is a very creative endeavor and also a thing of beauty!
Three 8 oz. top sirloin steaks
2 slices bacon, cut in pieces & browned
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 pkg. dry onion soup mix (may use 1 pkg.)
1 c. burgundy wine
½ cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp. herbs de provence
½ c. water + ½ c. beef broth with 1 TBS cornstarch
Brown steaks in oil. Pepper steaks and move to a dark enamel roaster, saving drippings in frying pan. Mix other ingredients together, add to the frying pan and bring to a boil. Pour over the steaks and roast. Cover & bake for 2 hrs. at 325° or until steaks are tender and gravy is a rich brown. Serves 3. Serve with red potatoes.
*This recipes makes a lot of gravy, so we make a big batch and use the leftovers to make Beef Burgundy Cobbler with Bacon Chive Biscuits. One leftover steak along with the mushrooms and gravy, is enough to fill 3 – 4 individual, ovenproof crocks or a medium sized casserole to about an inch from the top. Then, make your favorite baking powder biscuits (my recipe is below) and stir in some precooked bacon pieces and some freshly snipped or dried chives. Drop the biscuits on top of the hot gravy (if the gravy isn’t hot, the biscuits won’t get done on the bottom). Bake the casserole(s) at 400 degrees until the biscuits just start to brown.
Baking Powder Biscuits
2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons crumbled, cooked bacon, if desired
2 tablespoons freshly snipped chives (or 2 tsp. dried), if desired
4 heaping tablespoons (I use a soup spoon) shortening
1 cup milk
Mix the flour, salt, B.P., and bacon and chives if desired. Add shortening and cut in until the consistency of fine crumbs with a pastry cutter. Stir in the milk until fully moistened. Drop on bubbling meat pie mix or on a baking tray and bake about 15 – 20 minutes until just starting to brown.
I had a book I made at Shutterfly on the coffee table at the Blue Belle Inn B&B – a guest fell in love with it and asked me to order a copy for a friend of hers. Hope you enjoy it, too. Sherrie
One of the parts I like best about starting a new book is choosing the location where my story will be set. Local traditions, distinctive scenery, and quirky bits of historical lore can all be used to enhance the plot and bring life to your characters. Layering and interweaving them together or using symbolism to enhance the plot is pure fun for me. Choosing the right season for your story is another fun exercise. My latest book, Love Notes, starts just about this time of year, when late summer / autumn is turning to winter. The conclusion of Hope Anderson and Tommy Love’s story falls on Christmas Eve with a tender carol about hope, joy, peace and love. Maybe that’s why I’ve been thinking about autumn and the images it brings to mind.
But first, I’m going to backtrack a bit. I have to admit that autumn is my second favorite season. My bed and breakfast, The Blue Belle Inn, is named after a spring flower, and painted in springtime colors, so you can probably guess what my favorite season is.
To me, spring is a season of hope, and new beginnings. Maybe that’s why I couldn’t start Love Notes in the spring. Because for Hope and Tommy, certain things had to come to an end – die – before any new growth could occur. Dreams, self, old business.
I love spring, when the first blossoms start to poke out of the brown, colorless, still-half-frozen ground.
Spring has humble beginnings, and finishes with a truly glorious display.
Fall, on the other hand, is slow and mellow. It sneaks up on you. Why is it that we think summer will never end? I mean, we know colder weather is coming. Fall is about denial.
Fall is the season of being finished, pleased with yourself, satisfied and content. Fall is the time of year when the fruits of your labors are seen to completion.
Now I sound like a farmer’s daughter, which I am.
Fall is nature’s last hurrah.
Fall is frisky squirrels scurrying frantically about, getting ready for winter.
Are your characters driven – under a tight deadline? If so, maybe fall is their time.
Fall is yellow, orange and red… exactly what we expect, most of the time. But fall is also every color of the rainbow.
Fall is full of surprises.
Fall is hazy nights, full of dust and chaff, and beautiful sunsets.
If fall is hazy, summer is lazy. The time when we go on vacation, take siestas, and stop to smell the roses.
Summer can bring stormy weather.
Summer is unsettling, volatile. Things can blow up in a hurry.
Summer can be crazy.
Summer can be relaxed. Sweet. Wet. Wild.
Summer is a blaze of glory. Hot and humid. A time when things grow and burst into color. Everything is at it’s best in the summertime.
Summer is the perfect time to lean back and enjoy a day of basking in the sun or relaxing on a porch swing.
Summer is sentimental.
Summer is a time when I take nothing for granted, because I know it won’t be long before…
Fall. And fall is fleeting. The inevitable frost kills things, makes things colorless and grey.
And fall, after all, leads to winter. Winter… it’s icy cold. If you’re not careful, it will freeze your little tush off. The tip of my nose is always chilly in the winter.
Winter is a time of desolation. Isolation. Winter is beautiful, even majestic, in it’s own way, but so frigid and unyielding.
Crisp, clear. Blustery, blue.
Merry, dear. Winter has its own set of wishes, its own brittle warmth.
Which season is your favorite? What time of year were you born in? Have one or more seasons impacted your life? After all, we’re all characters living out a story line. Wild Rose of Scotland, the book I’m working on now, starts in the spring when the rhododendrons are in bloom. But there’s a long, hot, oppressive summer in store for Rose before she finally feels the graceful acceptance of fall.
In a few hours, I’ll be speaking at the Artworks Festival in Austin, MN, my hometown, also know as Spam Town USA (the kind in a can that’s good to eat).
Maybe it’s because Austin was the stage for most of my childhood dreams and wishes that I feel a little sentimental about the difference between how I hoped my life would turn out, and how it has. It was under the clear, blue skies of Austin that I dreamed of meeting my own tall, dark, mysterious Prince Charming, and living happily ever after in a house filled with babies and love, surrounded by a white picket fence and window boxes filled with pink geraniums. Given the era I grew up in, the happy young wife and mother I envisioned in my wishes probably looked like Gidget, Barbie, Cinderella, and Twiggy all rolled into one. My, how the world has changed in a few short decades. And my, how different my life has turned out to be than what I envisioned all those years ago.
Whether I was wishing upon a star or praying for the perfect man to come into my life and make my dreams come true, my life has been nothing like the way I imagined it would be. The things I’ve done, the places I’ve been, the things I’ve accomplished would have been incomprehensible to me back then. In some ways, I’ve far exceeded my hopes and dreams. I also have a handful of regrets, and a small part of me still mourns for the way things might have been.
One of the other Austin artists appearing at the festival is in a wheelchair. I’m told he was paralyzed in a football game in the late 80′s. He is exceptionally talented and has accomplished much in his life. I’m sure when he was growing up, he didn’t envision being injured. I wonder, would he have excelled at art in the way he has if that moment hadn’t redefined his life and shaped his perspective?
Things happen – often differently than we wish or hope - I believe God uses those things to take us from being rough pieces of coal to shining diamonds, to bring out the best in us.
The main character in my recently released, LOVE NOTES, is a woman named Hope Anderson whose youthful hopes and dreams died with her husband in an auto accident. Hope’s “Plan B” is to finish renovating and reopen Rainbow Lake Lodge, to see it bubbling with families, children, and laughter again – she believes, the perfect way to honor her late husband’s legacy. Due to an unfortunate set of circumstances, that dream is also about to die.
Sometimes it’s very hard to see the silver lining, to find the rainbow after the storm.
I did not live happily ever after. It took a few years for God to “work all things together for good” – I call it being blessed with “God’s Perfect Plan B”. I never did have children, but God gave me an extended family who loves me, brothers and sisters who are kind enough to share their children with me, nieces and nephews who love me and are a wonderful part of my life.
He gave me a Bed and Breakfast and a Tea House, music to lift my soul, friends and activities that I enjoy, a new chance at romance, and many books to write.
Romans 5:2-5says ” Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Our youthful hopes and dreams may have to be altered and adapted over the years, but one thing that never changes is God – our strength, our comfort, and our hope. Jeremiah 29:11 says, For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. I like Romans 12:12, too. “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
Sherrie Hansen Decker lives in a 116 year old Victorian house in northern Iowa who, just like her, got a second chance when she rescued it from the bulldozers grips and turned it into a bed and breakfast and tea house, the Blue Belle Inn. Sherrie has enjoyed learning about hope and love, and the difference a little faith makes while telling the story of Hope Anderson and Tommy Love in “Love Notes”. “Love Notes” is Sherrie’s fifth book to be published by Second Wind Publishing (her debut Christian Inspirational novel). Sherrie attended Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL and University of Maryland, European Division, in Augsburg, Germany. Her husband, Rev. Mark Decker, is a pastor and Sherrie’s real life hero. She enjoys playing the piano with their worship team, needlepointing, renovating and decorating historic houses, traveling, and going on weekly adventures with her nieces and nephews.
You can learn more about Sherrie’s books at:
What story is your life telling? A new friend on Twitter asked this question in a tweet this morning. Who says a few word can’t be powerful?
This is a question that seems to be of more importance to me as I get older, as it becomes apparent that my most productive years are probably more than half gone, and that if I want to make a name for myself or accomplish something that I have yet to do, it’s time to get with it and get it done. One of the main characters in my book, Tommy Love, is in his mid/late forties, and in the middle of a stellar mid-life crisis. He’s had a successful career as a musician, gotten the star treatment from millions of adorning fans… most of whom are baby boomers and dying off faster than fruit flies. What Tommy wants – or thinks he wants, is one more big hit – hip hop – to appeal to a new generation of fans. Can you blame him for not wanting to fade into oblivion, for not wanting to be pegged as an oldie-but-goodie? As perhaps all of us would like, Tommy wants to go out in a blaze of glory, to see his legacy live on for at least another 20 to 30 years.
Some of us accomplish this with our children, but in Love Notes, neither Hope or Tommy has children. Neither do I. It’s been suggested before that my books are my way of passing on the secrets of my heart, and I think that’s probably very true. The story my life has been told, continues to be told, and hopefully, will be passed along one day, through my creation of the Blue Belle Inn B&B and tea House (my baby in a very real sense), and in my writing.
I was recently approached about answering some questions for an article because I was an author who was over 50, a writer whose career as an author didn’t begin until I was past 50 years old. The question’s implication resulted in a lot of things floating through my evidently half-addled, 55 year old brain: What does she think I am, older than dirt? That it’s a miracle I can still write, old as I am? Once I got over my indignation, however, I started to think about what it is really like being 55, and how life is different now than when I was 25, 35 or even 45.
Here are my answers to her questions:
What prompted you to take up writing as a career at this time in your life?
When I was 35 years old, I opened a B&B and Tea House called the Blue Belle Inn. During those early days I worked until 10 p.m. every night, serving or cleaning up after dinner and trying to keep up the laundry and bookkeeping. When I got off work and went home (a basement apartment in the same big Victorian inn) I was keyed up and too wide awake to go to sleep. I needed someone to talk to so I could unwind. Being single, and living in a largely rural area where the rest of the world was early to bed and early to rise, I had no one to talk to and no where to go. So I wrote. I made up characters and conversations and situations and poured my pent up emotions and needs for personal interactions into my books.
For over a decade, I was so busy that I never found time to query or submit. Soon after I turned 50, I was approached by a publisher who had read the first chapter of Night and Day in an online contest I’d entered at Gather.com. He loved my voice and related to my characters and wanted to publish my book.
Do you think your age in any way hindered your writing success?
I suspect it has, for a couple of different reasons. I attended an American Christian Writer’s Conference last fall, and felt decidedly old, fat, and gray (comparatively speaking), even though I cheated a bit and added some color to my hair just for the occasion. Why, I wondered, would an editor or agent take a chance on me, when there were so many youthful, energetic people waiting in line on either side of me? The editors I spoke to were all in their 20′s or 30′s, looking for books that would engage a new, younger generation of readers. What did I have to offer them, with my stories of 30 and 40 year old characters – still a decade or two younger than me, but so ancient to them, that, as one editor put it, they would work as secondary characters, but not hero and heroine? Another said that they felt their readers would not be able to relate to stories about older characters, with the implication that they would be turned off, that the “ick factor” of a bunch of old fogies finding love would be too great for them to get get past.
The second reason I feel my writing has been impacted by my age is much scarier – and more personal, and that is that everything people say about menopause is true. Your brain turns to mush. It’s harder to focus, multitask and concentrate. My most productive time of the day – formerly from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., now finds me falling asleep at my computer. Now, I’m awake at 5 a.m. but I’m not productive, I’m crabby. It takes me longer to get the same amount of work done, so there is less time for writing. Worst of all, your interest in romance diminishes. So does your passion for life and people. It’s sad. It’s a reality. Some people tell me it will pass. Others just shake their heads and wish me the best.
Do you believe you could have written the same type of books at a different point in your life?
No. My books are about second chances, people who have learned by their mistakes, men and women who have failed and been forgiven, and thanks to God’s grace and love, have found a sweet love that they would most likely not have appreciated when they were younger. They see beauty in places they would have rushed right by when they were younger.
When I was young, before I fell flat on my face and learned a lot of life’s bittersweet lessons, I never could written the books I have. An author can imagine plots lines and character profiles, but you can’t conjure up the richness and fullness of life you find in your 50′s!
What have been the biggest advantages to pursuing a writing career at your age?
See above! I’m older, wiser, more accepting, more forgiving, more understanding, more savvy. I have more to offer, greater insights into what makes characters tick. I’ve been there, done that. Add my experience to my still active imagination, and you get richer, deeper characters, conflicts that are heart-wrenching, and scenarios that are intensely real.
And, I have the zillions of baby boomers who are tired of reading books about naive, 18 year old Amish girls, as potential readers.
What have been the greatest obstacles?
Finding a publisher who agrees with me. Three years ago, at the moderately “old” age of 52, I opted to sign on with a medium sized, independent publishing firm who are more interested in finding a good story that they are the age of the hero and heroine – or the author. Second Wind Publishing has been a great place for me to grow as an author and a wonderful venue for getting my books in print. I’ve had to modify my dreams and expectations, a bit, but then, isn’t that what aging gracefully is all about?
Whatever story your life is telling… and whatever age you are, I would urge you to keep sharing yourself – through your children, with your friends and family, in your careers or second careers – or third, or fourth – and if you like to write, through the stories you put on paper.
Here’s to the stories of our lives.
I’ve been thinking a lot about unconditional love lately. Little girls and boys dream of it, young women wish for it under the nearest star, and people who have had a failed relationship pray that they will be granted a second chance at finding it. It’s something we all want – to be accepted and adored for who we are and what we are – just the way we are, an inherent need / desire that never seems to go away no matter how old we get.
One of my favorite songs – a true oldie from the Disco era sung by Donna Summer – says it well.
Unconditional love is a theme that’s interwoven into almost every romance novel – whether the hero and heroine are kick-ass contemporary or an old-order Amish. Who doesn’t want to find that certain, one-in-a-million dream mate who’s a perfect fit for us?
We look for unconditional love in our non-romantic relationships, too. We want our teachers to “get us”. We hope our parents will accept our choices and admire our chosen path in life even if we don’t embrace 100% of their values or do things exactly they way they do. We crave compliments from our bosses and acceptance from our peers.
Unconditional love is the model of Christ’s love for us – Just As I Am, unworthy, guilty, with no defense – yet God’s love for us was so great that he sent His Son to die for us so that we could live and be loved, so that we could experience His abundant life.
I am blessed to have a husband who loves me even when I screw up or say things I shouldn’t. He may not like every single little thing about me, but he accepts and loves me nonetheless. He is supportive of who I am and helps me attain my dreams and goals. I have parents who are proud of me. I have friends and siblings who I can talk to and confide in, who are there for me when I’m in trouble.
I also have relationships that I’m not so secure in. As a boss / owner / manager of The Blue Belle Inn, a busy B&B and Tea House, I hope that my staff, employees, and customers all like me, and think that each of my edicts and decisions is wise, fair, and commendable. That doesn’t always happen. I’m currently meeting new people and making new friends at the church where my husband is the new pastor. Of course, I’d be thrilled if every single person who attends the church adores me and thinks I’m the perfect pastor’s wife. Realistically, that’s not likely to happen, because people (at work or church, in families, and otherwise) can be nit-picky, critical, and hypersensitive about certain things. Add that to the fact that I (and I’m assuming you) am far from perfect and voila… We all have our own quirks and idiosyncrasies, and yes, faults. The people who are around us are bound to discover them eventually.
I’ve been nervous for the last couple of weeks because some of the people I’ve recently met are just finding out that I’m an author, and others, that my books contain some steamy scenes. For the record, my next book, Love Notes, which will hopefully be released later this spring, is a Christian Inspirational romance (hopefully the same sizzle you love in my books, but no sex). But to be truthful, I haven’t had a great conversion experience, and I can’t promise I’ll never write another steamy romance. Because each of my characters is unique, and I believe as an author that it is my job to respect each and every one of them for who they are, and write their story to the best of my ability. Some of them think about sex all the time, some hardly ever; some are bold and go after what they want; some are shy and reticent. Some are laden with guilt and shame, some tied in knots because they’re grieving. There are no cookie cutter characters in my books. Hopefully each of them has a unique personality of their own, complete with their own foibles and brilliant streaks – just like me!
When I joined the American Fiction Christian Writers last year, I worried about being judged, about not being Christian enough, about being rejected because not all of my books are “Christian”. Conversely, I’ve often felt like I didn’t quite fit in over at the Romance Writer’s of America either. I’m a lot more conservative that many of them, and even when I’m writing straight contemporary romance, thoughts of God, family, home, and religion often creep into my work, something that is sometimes frowned upon.
Some authors take on a pen name and assume two separate identities when they write – one for one kind of story, whether is be erotica, mystery, suspense, or literary fiction, and another for romance, inspirational, or non-fiction. But I am stubborn. I want my friends and readers to give me their unconditional love. I am proud of all my stories, no matter what genre they fall into. You will find common themes of family, home and faith in each of my books. The ones with steamy scenes will be published under the name Sherrie Hansen (my maiden name). The ones with no sex will be published under the name Sherrie Hansen Decker, my married name.
No matter which of my books you choose to read, I hope that you will accept me for who I am – innkeeper / author / pastor’s wife / Everett Hansen’s daughter / Auntie Sherrie / sometimes sweet, sometimes silly, sometimes bossy, sometimes, shy, with a rare bit of a wild streak thrown in for good measure. I am uniquely me. I am not a cookie cutter anything. And to the friends and relatives and acquaintances who would like me to fit into their ideal mold, who think I should be a bit more or less of this or that, please remember that the characters in the Bible were all pretty unique as well — Moses, Ruth, Esther, Joshua, Elijah, Peter, Paul, John, David, Solomon — God used all kinds of unique people to accomplish His will – and still does. So please try to accept me for who I am even though you may like some things about me and not others.
Like everyone else, all I really want is your unconditional love. And, I really hope you like Love Notes! And Night and Day, Stormy Weather, Water Lily, and Merry Go Round.
I know… New Year’s Eve came and went over two months ago. So I’m a bit behind. I still haven’t mailed out my Christmas cards either. And like it or not, life’s events don’t exactly follow a tidy calendar. Changes – new beginnings – endings – often hit us unaware and at times that are anything but convenient.
It’s been a year of upheaval, changes, and saying goodbyes for my husband and I. We packed up one home and moved into another in December and January. Now, we’re off to a great new start at a new church (my husband is a pastor), in a parsonage that’s completely different from the home we’ve lived in for the past 8 (me) – 11 (him) years. The walls are painted in fresh new colors and I’m raring to get started on sewing new curtains for the windows and planting a garden come spring.
New beginnings are a wonderful thing any time of year. We’re slowly but surely making new friends, putting new names with new faces, and finding out where the best bargains, best food, and best places to go around our new home are.
Fresh starts can also come in tiny packages. My cook and primary assistant at the Blue Belle Inn, the B&B and Tea House I own and operate, just had her first baby and is on maternity leave for the next 3 months. As a result, I’m shuffling duties and training a new staff member. All good, but challenging, nonetheless. It’s probably good to mix things up once in awhile, but it’s also a lot of work to start over again. My new assistant is a quick study, but I’m starting from scratch, teaching her how to make Stuffed Pork Tenderloin Roll, Lumpy Bumpy Toffee Pie, Parmesan Cream Sauce with Garlic and Rosemary for Heart of My Heart Chicken and our Fondue Feast. No matter how you look at it, it’s a time consuming process to begin anew.
As I sometimes get to do when my husband has no pastor friends to talk to, I’ve also been listening to him bounce around sermon ideas. This week the Bible passage he’s going to preach on is about Jesus throwing the money changers out of the temple. Here’s another instance of tossing out the old and bringing in the new. Jesus is all about newness and radical, life-changing alterations to the way we see the world and live our lives.
I’ve heard say that if there’s one thing you can count on no matter what, it’s that nothing ever stays the same.
As a writer, I get a lot of practice saying goodbye and starting out fresh. By the time I’ve spent months or even years getting to know my characters and writing a book about their comings and goings, it’s a huge let-down when the books ends and it’s time to say good-bye and move on. My last three books (Stormy Weather, Water Lily, and Merry Go Round), are a trilogy, so I’ve gotten especially attached to the Jones sisters, their family and friends, over the course of writing about them for the past several years. Leaving their world behind, however make-believe it might be, and moving on to another, is always bittersweet, just like changes and transitions in real life.
My new adventure in the writing world involves a new book (Love Notes) in a new genre (inspirational romance) under a new name (Sherrie Hansen Decker). I can’t wait for you to get to know Hope Anderson, Tommy Love (Tom Lubinski), Billy Bjorklund, Alvin Soldvedt and the people of the tiny, Northwoods town of Embarrass, Minnesota.
Here’s a sneak peek, if you’re one of those people who likes to be the first to know:
Tom Lubinski, aka Tommy Love and the Love Notes, is a fading star in the middle of a stellar mid-life crisis. Tommy needs one more big hit – hip-hop, to appeal to a new generation. Thanks to an old friend who’s a banker, he’s found the perfect spot to build his dream house. When Tommy starts nosing around Embarrass, Minnesota and ends up in the ditch in the middle of an ice storm, he discovers he’s not the only one with plans for the place.
Hope Anderson is determined to renovate Rainbow Lake Lodge, the Northwoods resort where her late husband grew up. Reopening the Lodge so the families who have come there for generations can fill it with life again is the only way she knows to honor his legacy. Then the health inspector informs her that her old kitchen no longer meets state codes, and Billy Bjorklund, the devious new bank president, starts foreclosure proceedings.
Sure, Tommy feels bad that Hope spent all of her late husband’s life insurance money fixing up a lodge he plans to bulldoze. Tommy has always prided himself on being the kind of man who makes women’s dreams come true. But this time, Hope Anderson’s goal is in direct conflict with his. Bottom line, he has the wherewithal to make his dream a reality. She does not. No sense both of them being frustrated.
LOVE NOTES… Hope Anderson set out to preserve a legacy and found Love. Tommy Love wanted to make it big in hip-hop and found Hope. If they ever hope to understand the mystery of love, they’re going to need a little faith.
It’s been a busy weekend and I’m just now finding time to blog… I’m in Hudson tonight, at the parsonage, and we just returned from dinner at the home of some new friends from our church.
We started out the weekend having dinner with some old friends from Thompson, and seeing a movie – One for the Money – on a rare Friday evening off. In between, I worked a busy lunch hour at the Blue Belle Inn, then met up with my parents for a weekend trip to see our new home in Hudson. After dinner in Cedar Falls, they spent the night in the guest room at the parsonage and came to church with us this morning. I played the piano with the worship team. All in all, it’s been a great weekend – a nice balance of work and play, a good combination of old and new, and a pleasing mixture of entertaining and being entertained.
My husband and I have had an exciting start to our New Year… a new beginning in a new church in a new town. As I contemplate the release of my first inspirational romance, Love Notes, I feel a similar sense of anticipation. New characters in a new place in a new genre… a new beginning for me as an author, and a chance to engage new readers.
Like in my real life, in Love Notes, Hope is determined to preserve what has been, to keep her “old” life intact, to honor the legacy of her late husband, and Rainbow Lake Lodge. But unbeknownst to her, God has something even better waiting in the wings… something new… a surprise so delightful and unexpected, that it is almost unimaginable.
Sadly, we sometimes cling to the old, even when it is rusty and corroded and totally out-dated, or even bad for us, simply because it is familiar. Sometimes, if we want to experience the wonderful new things that God has designed with us in mind, we have to let go of the old.
It’s often said, there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel. But really, there is… what would our world be if we didn’t start over once in awhile, if we didn’t look to the future and move on?
My husband’s sermon this morning was about God’s covenant to Noah after the flood… a fresh start, a new beginning for the world, a promise of good and wonderful things to come… none of which would have happened if Noah hadn’t given up life as he knew it, built a humongous boat, gathered up a bunch of animals, and set sail on the biggest adventure of his life. What God was asking of him must have seemed crazy at the time. Thank God Noah was willing to take a leap of faith.
To new beginnings!
I’ve been thinking a lot about the “old days” this week. My bed and breakfast, the Blue Belle Inn B&B and Tea House, in St. Ansgar, Iowa, has been open for 20 years as of February 1st, which was also my 55th birthday. It’s definitely a time to think back, to remember what things were like those many years ago.
Memories are a funny thing. I learned in Childhood Psych that 90% of a child’s brain and 85% of their social skills and personality develop before they are 5 years old. Yet most of us have very few memories of anything that happened to us in this time period.
Some of my earliest childhood memories are sleeping out under the stars with my dad and my sister Becky, on the farm where we lived in Grand Meadow, Minnesota, when we were little. I can remember Marty Hedstrom, a teenager who worked for my Dad one summer, singing “Sherry Baby” to me and rescuing me from the bumblebees who were after me in the haymow of the barn where I used to play. I can remember standing next to my Great Grandma Matilda Paulson and my Grandma Victoria at First Baptist Church singing “Holy Holy Holy”. I can remember climbing on the school bus on the first day I went to school, the day my baby brother and sister were born, and the day my Grandpa Hansen died. Some of these experiences have already ended up in or certainly may one day find themselves into books I’ve written – in one form or another.
My 25 year old nephew and his pretty wife, Kayla, sang “Sherry Baby” to me this weekend at my birthday / anniversary party. What a flood of memories it brought back! Because I don’t have children of my own, my nieces and nephews are very special to me. I hope that I have made an impact on their lives as well, and that they will carry memories of me and the fun times we’ve shared at the Blue Belle Inn and our family gatherings with them long after I’m gone.
My 5, 7 and 10 year old nieces and nephews were at my party, too. The girls helped get people registered for the door prizes. The two youngest were waitress and waiter and helped clear plates and take them to the kitchen. They were very intense about collecting the dirty plates (Will you please hurry up and finish eating your food so I can take your plate?) and did their jobs well.
I will have to give them some tips next time I see them. (They had to leave early because it was past their bedtime.) Right before they left, the girls entertained us by singing our favorite song, “He Knows My Name,” while I played the piano.
My hope is that they will retain their memories of the very special night they shared with their old Aunt Sherrie at the Blue Belle Inn. Maybe one of them will blog about it one day when they’ve heard “Sherry Baby” played on the radio… er… computer.
Maybe it’s because I don’t have children, but it’s important to me that someone remembers that I’m not just Blue Belle Sherrie (the main hat I’ve worn for the past 20 years). I want someone to know and remember that I climbed Pike’s Peak when I was younger, that I learned to disco dance when I lived in Germany back in the late seventies at the height of the Saturday Night Fever era. I want someone to remember that I went to Wheaton College, and saw Michael Jackson’s Thriller concert at Mile High Stadium in Denver and spent a night at a Benedictine Monastery in Bavaria. And that I made the best Jaeger Schnitzel and Spaetzle noodles this side of the great pond.
I hope you have some sweet memories, too – perhaps something you’ve read in one of my books has evoked a recollection or brought tears to your eyes. I also wish for each of you someone who knows you and loves you enough to remember unique things about you.
Thanks for letting me be nostalgic on the occasion of my big birthday and anniversary. Andrew Lloyd Webber says it well…
All alone in the moonlight
I can dream of the old days
Life was beautiful then
I remember the time I knew what happiness was
Let the memory live again.
And if you’re a child of the seventies like I am, I’m sure this song conjurers up the very thing it talks about…
Memories, pressed between the pages of my mind
Memories, sweetened through the ages just like wine
Quiet thoughts come floating down
And settle softly to the ground
Like golden autumn leaves around my feet
I touched them and they burst apart with sweet memories,
Of holding hands and red bouquets
And twilights trimmed in purple haze
And laughing eyes and simple ways
And quiet nights and gentle days with you.
Some of my favorite memories – and ones that will almost certainly die with me, since all my friends from that era are my age or older – are of the 12 years I lived in Colorado Springs. During that time, I heard Amy Grant sing this song in concerts three or four times. From I Will Remember You…
When this fire is an ember
When the night’s not so tender
Though it’s hard to remember darlin’
I will be holding
I’ll still be holding to you
I will remember you
So many years come and gone
And yet the memory is strong
One word we never could learn
True love is frozen in time
I’ll be your champion and you will be mine
I will remember you
Being a writer, I’ve always thought that stories are the best way to share memories. I hope one day, you’ll read mine.
Happy Birthday to me. Cheers to 20 years at the Blue Belle Inn. And a toast to memories that live on forever in the minds of the those who love us.
(Sherrie Hansen is the author of 4 books: Night and Day, Stormy Weather, Water Lily, and Merry Go Round.)
I decided to write about my online aura bright and early this morning. As I lay in bed, slowly waking up, I had the words all planned out… clever words, put together with onomatopoeia and alliteration and all kinds of good “stuff”. And then my day began. My husband had an early morning doctor’s appointment at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. I tried to go back to sleep after he left, but the phone rang several times in a row. I took room reservations for my B&B for a total of 16 nights and started processing the paperwork. I found out a friend had just gotten out of the hospital – and I didn’t know she’d been in. I answered an email about a do-it-yourself murder mystery party. I checked my email, facebooked for a few minutes, then got another phone call reminding me to email some photos to my ad rep at the Minneapolis Star Tribune. I followed Kaila’s instructions, had to resend one photo, and minutes later, proofed the ad. I had barely enough time for a quick shower and then it was off to the Blue Belle to fix lunch for several customers and throw together food, party games and prizes for Tanya’s baby shower. The party was a hit and Tanya liked the gift my husband picked out last night in the big city. My husband and I climbed into the car as soon as it was over and headed for Thompson, where we scrubbed out the refrigerator, returned some folding chairs that mistakenly got moved to Hudson, and reclaimed a few odds and ends that didn’t make it into the moving trucks last weekend. While Mark finished up at the house and said a few last goodbyes, I and my portable keyboard went to Merle’s house with Mary Ann so the three of us could practice for my upcoming birthday / Blue Belle 20th anniversary party. We drove the hour long drive home with a quick dinner stop at Subway in Lake Mills. Thank goodness they’re open until 10 p.m. Now, it’s after 11 p.m. and I and my aura are shot.
I was going to talk about the fact that some people have an encouraging online aura, others a humorous aura, and others still, an aura that’s sexy, cute or funky. Some of my online friends have a bitter, cynical aura. Some come across as being crabby, complaining and whiny. Some have a faithful aura out of which shines a love for God and their fellow man. What kind of silent vibes do you transmit over the internet? Does your online aura personify the kind of person you are in real life, or do you use the internet as an opportunity to set your alter-ego free? If you met an online friend in real life, would they immediately recognize you?
Your words and the things you post, twitter, share and like, all make a statement about who you are – what’s important to you. In cyber space, all we have are words. Make each one count! Let your words shine with the essence of you!
If the subject of internet romance / relationship fascinates you like it does me, get a copy of my first book, Night and Day, and find out how a chance online meeting when it’s midnight in Minnesota and daybreak in Denmark transforms the lives of Jensen Marie Christiansen and Anders Westerlund.
My goal this morning was to write a blog that made me sound perky and pleasant… the kind of person you’d want to buy a book from. Instead, I probably sound exhausted – because I am! (But in the best way possible.) Keep smiling.