Thursday, December 18, 2014

Throwback Thursday

Most folks, when you ask them what they know about gangsters from the Roaring Twenties will mention Capone and Chicago, and rightly so, but did you know that Minnesota was a hotbed of gangster activity in the 1920's and early 30's? No kidding! I had no idea before I moved here, but the number of crooks, gangsters, robbers, rum-runners, kidnappers, and otherwise undesirable individuals who sought refuge in St. Paul during Prohibition is off the charts.

Our most famous residents during this time were the Barker-Karpis Gang (remember Ma Barker and her boys?) Baby-Face Floyd, and John Dillinger.

The reason so many bad guys headed to St. Paul when the heat was on was because most all of the police force in St. Paul was on the take. They operated under "The O'Connor System." This system had three rules:

1. You must check in with Harry Sawyer (thought to have murdered his boss, Dapper Dan Hogan, using a car bomb, in order to take his place as kingpin gangster of St. Paul) at the Green Lantern Saloon when you hit town.

2. You must leave a telephone number and address with Harry where you could be reached for the duration of your stay in the city. (This was so they could call and tip you off if the Feds started sniffing around.)

3. You must make a contribution to the Chief of Police's 'operating fund.' (Tom Brown was the most corrupt chief of police any city ever had. He was in cahoots with criminals of every stripe, taking bribes, payoffs, and portions of ransoms. What a creep!)

To learn more about the gangsters of St. Paul, I recommend:

John Dillinger Slept Here


Secret Partners: Big Tom Brown and the Barker Gang

Were you aware of Minnesota's Gangster History? Did any famous gangsters live in your area?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

25th Anniversary

Yesterday, my husband and I celebrated 25 years of wedded happiness. It's so hard to believe it's been that long since we said our vows, and yet, it also seems as if we've been married forever.

When I look at these pictures, I realize just how young we were.  We had so much ahead of us! Finishing college, having children, changing jobs, moving to Peter's birth-state, building a house, loss of loved ones, births of new loved ones, new cars, old friends, laughter and memories.

We've crammed a lot of living into 25 years together, a lot of loving, too. I'm so thankful for my husband, a godly, caring man with a sense of humor and a heart of service.

I hope we have at least 25 more years of adventure ahead of us.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas Memories Are Here - #ChristmasOrnaments

One of my favorite things at Christmas is decorating the tree. And while I love beautiful trees glistening in gold sparkles and pearl-white glass bulbs, or maroon ribbon and twig-star ornaments, and even multi-colored lights and silver stars, my favorite type of tree is a mish mash of everything.

Call me traditional. I'm not normally. Well, maybe I am. Sentimental. Just a tad. Not a lot. I don't save things. I toss and recycle and sell. But don't you DARE touch my ornaments. :)

You see, I call my Christmas tree my Memory Tree. All my memories hang in friendly greeting every Christmas. So much so, I can smell the gingerbread my Gramma just pulled from the oven, I can see my brother bored on the couch, I can taste the hot Russian tea, and I can feel the soft welcome of my Aunt's home.

Can I share some memories tonight?

This is a little velvet bird with gold glitter circa 1950-something. It was on my Gramma Wright's
Christmas tree then traveled to my Dad's tree and finally found its home on my tree. Everytime I see it visions of sleigh rides, and my Dad running around in his shoes and stocking cap, listening to the old radio and my Gramma making her infamous gingerbread with lemon sauce .... nostalgia.

I don't know what Sunday School teacher bestowed this on me as a little girl. But I've had it since I was little girl. It's a basic angel, probably from the 80's, but she hangs there every Christmas and reminds me of the little church of 100 members.

Awww, I remember picking this one out when I was around eight. My Great-Uncle Eugene had horrible emphysema and this was how he passed his time: making ornaments. I remember seeing this horse and falling in love. It's been on my tree ever since. 

Sometimes ornaments come with a bittersweet pang. I had one girl-cousin who lived near me and she was ten years old than I was. One Christmas, Kelly made me my own princess ornament. She loved to sew, and create. She was beautiful. An angel. And she became an angel when she passed away at eighteen in a motorcycle accident. I remember Kelly. Every Christmas.

My horrible admission this year? This teddy is from my Gramma on my mom's side. She has dementia. I love this teddy, because she knew me. She's always known me. But she has dementia now. My horrible admission? I'm afraid to go visit her at the home this week. I'm afraid for the first time, she won't know me. But I guess then, it'll be my turn. Because I know her.

My newest ornaments came this year after my little ones came home from their babysitter's with hand/fingerprint snowmen on glass bulbs. We have an awesome babysitter. She even helped Kokomo Jo wrap them. My babies' hands are forever captured.

Do you have a favorite ornament? What Christmas item gives you those nostalgic, Christmas memories?


Jaime Wright - 

Spirited and gritty turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense. Youth leader. Professional Coffee Drinker. Works in HR and specializes in sarcasm :) - Represented by: Books & Such Literary Agency

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Monday's Devo: Go Tell it on the Mountain!

I love the traditional Christmas song, "Go Tell it on the Mountain!" It's a song with a catchy tune that reminds us to go tell the world about the good news of the birth of Jesus.

I read a blog this week entitled: Complaining is a Spiritual Problem. It's true, our culture in the world today is one of complaining. Grumbling. If one person gives a list of what sorts of challenges they met just on the way to work, another person sees their number of grievances and then raises them two or three more.

by permission:

The coffee maker broke. The alarm didn't go off. The shower was cold. I hit all the red lights and then noticed my gas tank was on empty. Obamacare is bad. Seriously, all my laundry is dirty so I had to wear this twice.

And so it goes...the litany of griping.

I've heard it said that bad things happen in "threes" as if after that you are automatically off the bad-things-can-happen-to-me-today list.  Last year, a series of out of the ordinary mini mishaps happened to me. I began keeping track and listing them, mentally at first, then out loud. Soon I'd passed item four and five and grew internally outraged that I'd well expired my I-was-due-for-some-stress-in-life, as if I had a right to be overlooked by more rain clouds. By the time I was well beyond bad-thing number six or seven, it was as if God said, "keep on complaining if you want to, I'll give you more for your list if you want to keep speaking bad things into your life."

Then I remembered that God struck Zechariah speechless for three months when he questioned the angel Gabriel's announcement of his wife's pregnancy with John the Baptist---and I decided I'd better zip my lips from letting a constant string of complaints drip from my soul, taking my spirit captive with them. I'd never set out to be negative, or unbelieving, yet I mindlessly partook in remembering all that I'd endured as if I'd donned battle armor and crossed the moors of Mordor and faced an army of Orc's and lived to tell of it.

by permission:
Silence takes discipline. (and I'm not perfect!)

But soon, it feels more powerful.
Believing in good. Walking by faith.
Walking in the Spirit and by faith doesn't change your circumstances, 
but it does free you to see in a new way.

Telling good news, speaking good, does the same thing. It brings freedom.

Announcement of the Birth of Jesus.
Luke 1
In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of  David, and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” (Anne's thought: at this point, Mary might have, could have easily, focused only on her circumstance and complained about how inconvenient it would be for her....)

And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.

And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.”

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her. (Anne's thought: instead, Mary responded in faith and surrendered her circumstances to the Lord's will even though she couldn't see how it would all play out.)

And then....Unto us was born the Messiah, Savior of the world....

Go, speak it to the Mountains!
Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots. 
Nurse Practitioner by day. 
Wife, mother, writer by night. 
Coffee drinker--any time.
Find me on:Facebook
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Represented by Sarah Freese, WordServe Literary

Friday, December 12, 2014

Double Book & Coffee #Giveaway

How's this for a happy Friday?? Leave a comment to win this two book gift set complete with local Wisconsin coffee, all given to you  by your professional coffee drinker, Jaime! :)

What do YOU want for Christmas? answer to be entered to win!

*Limited to USA entries only, Christmas tree, town, lights, ornaments, and ribbons not included ;)

Jaime Wright - 

Spirited and gritty turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense. Youth leader. Professional Coffee Drinker. Works in HR and specializes in sarcasm :) - Represented by: Books & Such Literary Agency

Find me Online
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Find me on Facebook
Find me on Pinterest

Thursday, December 11, 2014

TBT: Vintage Christmas Cards (and My Messy Life)

Well, it happened today. 
The craziness of the season sucked the joy out of my routine and my son had to take me down a notch on my stress-o-meter from an "8" to at least a "3".

It's about this time of the Holiday Season where we get our stress on way too easily. The to-do list is still a mile long. Anything I thought I had pre-organized suddenly feels under-done. And everything that's expected, like Christmas Cards, feels like something I should push to the "skip-it-this-year-list".

So, even though I love this vintage Christmas card and the tradition that started in the 1840's and was supported by the Hall brothers who started Hallmark in 1915, days like today make me want to protest.

How do you keep the joy in your Christmas Season?  Today for me, it took my son's reminder to just stop and take it down a notch. So what if I have dirty laundry, a cluttered desk, a stack of unwrapped gifts, a forgotten trip to the post office to mail gifts. So what if my tree isn't trimmed perfectly.

Jesus's stable was stinky. The straw was strewn about. The animals left their deposits. Mary probably hadn't taken a shower and didn't have a good hair day. Joseph probably had saddle bum from riding all day long. And no, they didn't have pampers either.

And this is the life Jesus came to indwell. His glory came down into this mess to fill us and all our moments. He doesn't wait until we are cleaned up, or deemed acceptable. He just comes. Into our mess and chaos.

So let Him in. 
Take it down a notch.

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots. 
Nurse Practitioner by day. 
Wife, mother, writer by night. 
Coffee drinker--any time.
Find me on:Facebook
Find me on: Pinterest
Find me on: Goodreads
Find me on: Twitter
Represented by Sarah Freese, WordServe Literary

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Tea Ladies Say Goodbye

This past Friday I was honored to be invited to a very special book group meeting. This group of ladies--some of them have been friends for nearly twenty years--is an amazing, precious example of how Christian women should treat one another.

Their name is The Tantalizing Ladies' Tea--A Christian Book Club Coterie. Isn't that divine? They get together for tea and books and laughter and prayer and crafts and great food and lots of fun. They have shouldered each others' burdens, celebrated milestones, loved on and cared for each other in ways that make God's heart smile.

I am blessed that they have opened their arms to me and made me an honorary member.

The meeting on Friday was bittersweet indeed as the group had to say goodbye to one of their founding members. Sweet Kelly, crafting maven, bright spot, and hilarious tender-heart, is moving to Kansas where her husband is starting a new job.

Here are some pictures of the event:

Kristine Klein is a wonderful hostess. She sets a lovely table. Each lady chooses her own teacup and saucer from Kristine's extensive collection, and each one is more beautiful than the last. 

Becky, Kelly, Kristine, and Judy, sweethearts every one!

Kelly opening her going-away gifts. There was much laughter and tears.

Judy, Kristine, Tiffany (with awesome hair, BTW) Becky, and Kelly. Kelly is holding a book by Michelle Griep, another honorary Tea Lady and author. 
The lovely Sherri (I didn't get a picture of her! Rats!) read a beautiful story that had all of us in tears, and I wanted to share it with you here:

“Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand.” ~ Jeremiah 18:6

There was a couple who used to go to England to shop in the beautiful stores. They both liked antiques and pottery and especially teacups. This was their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. One day in this beautiful shop they saw a beautiful teacup. They said, "May we see that? We've never seen one quite so beautiful."
As the lady handed it to them, suddenly the teacup spoke. "You don't understand," it said. "I haven't always been a teacup. There was a time when I was red and I was clay. My master took me and rolled me and patted me over and over and I yelled out, 'Let me alone', but he only smiled, 'Not yet.'"
"Then I was placed on a spinning wheel," the teacup said, "and suddenly I was spun around and around and around. 'Stop it! I'm getting dizzy!' I screamed. But the master only nodded and said, 'Not yet.'"
"Then he put me in the oven. I never felt such heat. I wondered why he wanted to burn me, and I yelled and knocked at the door. I could see him through the opening and I could read his lips as he shook his head, 'Not yet.'"
"Finally the door opened, he put me on the shelf, and I began to cool. 'There, that's better', I said. And he brushed and painted me all over. The fumes were horrible. I thought I would gag. 'Stop it, stop it!' I cried. He only nodded, 'Not yet.'"
"Then suddenly he put me back into the oven, not like the first one. This was twice as hot and I knew I would suffocate. I begged. I pleaded. I screamed. I cried. All the time I could see him through the opening nodding his head saying, 'Not yet.'"
Then I knew there wasn't any hope. I would never make it. I was ready to give up. But the door opened and he took me out and placed me on the shelf. One hour later he handed me a mirror and I couldn't believe it was me. 'It's beautiful. I'm beautiful.'"
"'I want you to remember, then,' he said, 'I know it hurts to be rolled and patted, but if I had left you alone, you would have dried up. I know it made you dizzy to spin around on the wheel, but if I had stopped, you would have crumbled. I knew it hurt and was hot and disagreeable in the oven, but if I hadn't put you there, you would have cracked. I know the fumes were bad when I brushed and painted you all over, but if I hadn't done that, you never would have hardened; you would not have had any color in your life. And if I hadn't put you back in that second oven, you wouldn't survive for very long because the hardness would not have held. Now you are a finished product. You are what I had in mind when I first began with you.'"

The bonds that tie these ladies together are much stronger than just food and books. They are bound by faith and trial and triumph, memories and experiences, and most of all they are bound by love. No distance can sever those ties. Kelly, we wish you all the best in your new location, and we pray that you find some new friends to share your love and your gifts with...but in the words of the incomparable Bev S. "Not too good."