Ryan and I were talking the other night about photo albums because we have many of these books from our previous lives up on a shelf in our basement.  I was sharing with him how initially in our marriage I would often look through these books to try and get a feel for what his life and the kids’ lives were like before I entered the picture.  I also wanted to try to get an idea of how the family clicked before me, what their mom was like, how I was different from her or similar to her, really probably just being a nosy woman but trying to sort it out, nonetheless, on my own.  He, on the other hand, has never even looked at my picture books.  I’m not sure why it’s so different for men and women, but I think because as women we are emotional. We have this need to try to emotionally sort it out, men are not nearly as wrapped up in that aspect of life, so to him that was my life then and it has nothing to do with his life with me now, so why revisit it?  But to me it’s all encompassing, who you were then, how you lived life then, what you experienced then, all comes into play with who and what you are in the present. As we continued talking he said, “You know, those pictures aren’t really an accurate portrayal of my life, those are just snapshots of the happy times, you don’t take pictures of the mundane or the hard times.”  I thought about it and he’s right.  If I base my view point of his entire life prior to me on those picture books, I would not only get a pretty inaccurate portrayal of his life, but I would also have a huge complex trying to live up to the perfection that those pictures portray!  As we pondered this a bit more and thought it through, our conversation turned down a whole new avenue.  We realized that those pictures are like events that happen in our lives.  We have snapshot moments that seem to encompass our entire lives for a season.  For example, the deaths of our former spouses, those two events were snapshot moments.  They were very significant moments but not accurate portrayals of our entire lives. They happened, we mourned, and now we remember.  Sympathy and comfort is for those who mourn; respect is for those who remember.   We have determined that those two snapshot days are not going to be days that we dread for the next 50 years (God willing), but we are instead going to focus on making as many beautiful memories as possible with the time we have remaining.  Those events in our lives were what they were, and we respectfully remember as a family. They were snapshot moments of our lives, sad snapshot moments, and if we had a photo album book purely devoted to those days it would look like we had lived pretty sad lives, but the fact is, that would not be an accurate portrayal of our lives.  Our lives are made up of the sad, the mundane and the great joy filled days, but just as we choose to photograph the happy times and not the sad, we choose to remember the good and rise above the bad. 
Just keep livin!!


I wrote the other day about how God often uses the traumas, major issues, and disappointments in our lives to strip us of anything and everything that could hinder us from being all that we are meant to be in Christ.  One thing that has always gotten under my skin is the fact that when someone passes away a sort of sainting of that person occurs because, generally in our culture, we do not speak ill of the dead.  I’m not sure how or why this occurs.  Those who were close to that person obviously knew that he or she had faults so I don’t understand why we feel the need to act like they didn’t have any.   I loved it recently at my grandmother’s funeral when the pastor said at her grave side burial, “Now we recognize that Sally was not a perfect person, she was a sinner just like the rest of us, saved by grace and in need of a Savior.”  I turned to Ryan and said, “I don’t think I’ve ever heard the possibility mentioned at a funeral that the person wasn’t perfect.”  It shocked me a bit, and I thought it was absolutely beautiful and refreshing to hear that.  Now, my late husband would have completely scoffed at the idea of anyone thinking he was perfect.  He was a bit like the apostle Peter, he had a sort of rough exterior, a solid faith, and a heart that really wanted to serve his Savior but often his shortcomings, his mouth, and his pride would get in the way.  He loved Super Heroes, all of them, Spiderman, the Hulk, Iron Man, and he actually referred to himself as Superman on more than one occasion, but his favorite Super Hero was Batman because, as he would explain to anyone who asked, Batman was the only real human who by sheer will and determination became a Super Hero.  Jason was incredibly strength and endurance driven.  He was a tennis player who almost broke through to the professional ranks, and he would brag to anyone who asked about his 120 MPH serve.  He was remarkably strong for not having the natural build of someone who should have had a lot of strength.  He had to work twice as hard as most men to obtain the amount of strength and muscle that came easily to the majority.   He used most of his down time to research the latest and greatest improvements for muscle strength, agility, and endurance.  He spent any extra money he had on protein replenishment drinks, mixes, or powders, and he could most often be found in either a gym or on the tennis courts. He loved what the human body was capable of achieving and above all else he loved watching his own body exceed all limitations.  In 2007 this Superman’s strength and muscle began to deteriorate without any plausible explanation offered by the medical community.  When it was discovered that it was a brain tumor to blame it was immediately taken out and about two weeks later he was back in the gym willing his body and his muscles to realign and cooperate with his will.  Fast forward to a year later, the tumor returned, his strength decreased, and his body really took a beating this time around with multiple chemos, radiations, and poisons.  His muscle tone was depleted down to that of an old man, his vision started to wane, his mental capacity strained and his strength that of a teenage boy but still, 6 weeks before he went to his eternal home, it was said that he was doing pull-ups in the gym.  In his final weeks when he was completely bedridden and wiped entirely clean of one of the few things that brought him true joy – the pride that came with being the strongest, being the fastest, and having the most endurance, he would often be heard saying, “I’ve prayed so many times that something good will come of all of this and that God would be glorified.” He was stripped of all of his earthly pride to be all that God called him to be, to run his race by emptying himself of who he was to bring glory to his King.  In return, I bet, he had a pretty buff Batman body waiting for him beyond the veil. 
Just keep livin!
In memory of Jason Crisman June 2,1977-August 24, 2010

Chocolate Cake

I’ve had people ask,” How in the world do you accomplish dinner time with such a large family and with so many young children?  How to you accommodate all of the different personalities, likes, and dislikes?”  First of all, we don’t accommodate.  There are not options in the Ronne house hold, you either eat what is put in front of you or you’re going to be hungry.  Secondly, we’ve incorporated something that I remembered from my childhood where each child is allowed to pick one food that they absolutely detest and they do not have to eat that food item ever.  It’s their get out of jail free card, but, it can only be changed once a year.  Everything else, besides that one item, you better be prepared to eat.   Initially dinner was an interesting task.  My three new children had not been brought up on the same foods that my four birth children were used to.  I like to sneak spinach into just about everything and my new husband and my new children didn’t appreciate this aspect of my cooking.  Their tastes have changed in the year and a half that I’ve been the woman in their lives, but I have also compromised a bit.  I used to throw a bag of spinach into just about any hot dish and then roll my eyes as four family members would gaggingly pull little wilted green leaves out of their mouths and place them on the plate in front of them.   I have since, on my husband’s suggestion, gotten smarter about it.  I now usually process the whole bag of spinach in the food processor before throwing it into a pasta, burritos, enchiladas, or casserole.  Honestly they hardly even notice it’s there and they’ve gotten so used to this fact about mom’s cooking that they just don’t argue it anymore.  I usually enjoy cooking and trying new things.  It was always my goal as a mother to expose my children to as many different food items as possible and whether they like it or not, I didn’t want to raise a bunch of picky eaters who would only eat corn out of a can and hamburger helper.  These kids (and Ryan) have tried Brussels sprouts, spaghetti squash, prune cake, bread pudding (not a big hit at my house), kale, asparagus, eggplant, kiwi, salmon, perch, walleye, and mango to name a few.  They did not respond well to all of them, but they have learned to eat a few of them.  The whole family will now eat fish, not only without complaining, but everyone actually likes it.  They will all eat asparagus without complaining which was something I despised as a child. None of them are real fond of prune cake so that won’t be gracing my table again anytime soon (sorry, Pioneer Woman).  Point being, I want well rounded, well balanced eaters, especially my sons as they will embark on a journey of a new woman’s cooking someday, and I want them to have experienced palates that can handle just about anything she may throw their way.  I have to confess, we do implement another strategy in the Ronne household to encourage healthy eating habits. Last year we noticed that the kids would come home from school at 4, grab a snack, and then eat dinner at 5:30.  Well, they didn’t eat because they had just had a snack so we eliminated snack time and instead we have dessert every single night.  Sometimes it’s just vanilla ice cream, sometimes, it’s chocolate pudding, but on the days when we will be trying something very unique and very interesting that may not go over real well, it’s usually a giant, moist, double layer, chocolate cake oozing with homemade chocolate butter cream frosting. This is strategically placed in a very visible spot as the family is eating and it’s usually enough encouragement for the pickiest of eaters in our family to finish every last bite on their plate, even the two year olds.  
Just keep livin!!

Miracle Boy

My sweet miracle boy turns 8 tomorrow.  This is really unbelievable to me when I actually think about it.  The child who had a stroke in utero at 3 months, the unborn child who I was repeatedly advised to abort because he would never amount to anything, a child who survived 5 months in utero after having a stroke and whose head continued to swell with cerebrospinal fluid with every prenatal checkup. He did make it to birth, prematurely, and then overcame every single word uttered against his life by surviving.  A child who had an almost perfect apgar score at birth and who hollered with life as he came into a world that didn’t offer him much hope. A child who had brain surgery at three days old and spent two weeks in neonatal, and a child who taught his mother how to pray, how to believe, and what faith was all about.  He became a little boy who completely redefined his parents’ view on healing and how God views each one of us.  He has touched so many people’s lives in such a unique and remarkable way just by being him, and he has survived multiple traumatic events, surgeries, and the death of his birth father and continues to rise above every expectation placed on his life.  He is just starting to communicate, starting to walk and continuing to inspire everyone around him, including his newest family members who are often his biggest cheerleaders.  A little boy turned big boy overnight who is almost always happy as long as the music is playing, his stomach is full, and his diaper clean.   Lucas Aaron, you are a “bearer of light” as the meaning behind your name states.  You are a light to all as you prove to us that what “they” say is not always right and that our ideas of perfect are so often wrong.  You are perfect just the way God made you as your favorite Veggie Tale movie declares.  Happy, Happy birthday little boy, thank you for being you, thank you for being the beautiful music in our lives, and thank you Lord for the precious gift of this little boy.  
Enjoy this video that may be a repeat for many but it symbolizes so well just how far Luke has come. 

Just keep livin!!