Lessons From a Children’s Book

As a mom, I read a lot of children’s books.  As a homeschooling mom, I probably read even more.  I love books, so that’s okay by me!

My children and I read a great little book called Katy and the Big Snow today.  Besides being a fun story, this sparked a conversation about what it takes to run a city.  In the story, a snowstorm renders the city streets impassable.  We see the firefighters unable to get to a fire, a doctor unable to get his patient to the hospital, the postal service unable to deliver the mail, along with other community helpers and businesses unable to function.  Katy, the heroine of the story, plows the streets and saves the day. 

This is a nice demonstration of the way people depend on each other.  In the case of a snowstorm, we rely on the snowplow drivers that work so hard to clear the roads.  We rely on each other everyday.  My children and I talked about the various jobs and services that help our communities run smoothly.  We adults certainly have seen that some professions carry more prestige or higher wages, but let’s not forget that there is a wide range of jobs that benefit our communities.  There is value in all honest work.

Thankful to be busy?

Yes, I think I am thankful to be busy.  Most of us find ourselves in a perpetual hurry at this time of year.  Tomorrow in the U. S., we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, a day to pause and reflect on our blessings.  The days leading up to Thanksgiving usually involve a lot of preparations.  For the Thanksgiving hosts, there is no shortage of cooking and cleaning to prepare for the big celebration.  For the guests, there is packing and traveling, often in snowy weather.  It’s just very busy.  Just as soon as Thanksgiving is past, we rush forward toward Christmas, often beginning with a shopping spree on ‘Black Friday.’  How can we pause to reflect on anything when we have so much to do?!?

I will be celebrating Thanksgiving with my in-laws tomorrow, and I am thankful to them for opening their home to us and for all the wonderful food that we will enjoy.  Although I am not hosting the big celebration, I have still been quite busy.  Some of this is related to the upcoming holidays, and some of it is just life.  I was thinking about all this rushing around, and I can see that for every task, their is a corresponding blessing. 

Shopping for and preparing food for Thanksgiving:  I am thankful for my church and this evening to gather together to worship, give thanks and enjoy fellowship with our friends and fellow believers there.  I am thankful to be spending time with family this holiday weekend.

Several medical appointments these last two weeks:  I am thankful for skilled doctors and dentists that help keep us healthy and also help us get better when we aren’t so healthy. 

Planning special Thanksgiving and Christmas activities with our homeschool group:  I am thankful for this homeschool community and the opportunity to celebrate together.

Planning lessons and helping my children with their schoolwork:  I am thankful for the time I get to spend with my children and the many opportunities for learning.

These are just a few examples.  The list goes on and on.  So, yes, I am happy to be busy.  I wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving, and I hope you can take a moment to consider your blessings, even if you find yourself busily rushing around.

C’est délicieux

We stumbled onto something delicious today.  Seeking somewhere to stop for a quick snack while out and about, my husband grabbed his phone and searched for a nearby bakery.  The results showed a French bakery in the area.  It turns out an authentic French bakery opened in our area just yesterday.  Of course we had to check it out.  Delicious!

We bought some chouquettes, a brioche, and a baguette.  They were all wonderful.  It makes me want to brush up on my very rusty French.  At the very least, I can buy some terrific breads and pastries from a gentleman with a charming French accent.

Operation Christmas Child

Looking for a way to involve young children in charitable giving? You may want to check out Operation Christmas Child, an annual project of Samaritan’s Purse that provides  shoe boxes filled with school supplies, small toys, hygiene items, etc. to needy children around the world – 8 million children received boxes last year!

While adults and teens can both donate and help process boxes at the warehouse, younger children can get involved by filling a shoe box.  My children each helped choose items for a box this year, and we dropped off those boxes today. 

The person donating the box chooses the gender and age range of the recipient.  Not surprisingly, my daughter chose to give to a girl her age, and my son chose to give to a boy his age. Both my kids remarked that some kids don’t get any Christmas presents and that this box may be someone’s only Christmas present. They were happy that a child, somewhere in the world, would be receiving a Christmas present who might not have without Operation Christmas Child.

I hope that participating in projects like this will help us all remember how blessed we are, and to know that we can be a blessing to someone else as well.

This year’s Operation Christmas Child collection dates are November 15 – 22. There are a few more days to drop off a box this year! For drop-off sites and more information: http://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/OCC/Pack_A_Shoe_Box/


In 2009, my husband and I decided to join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). We get a weekly box of produce from a relatively nearby farm. We have tried a whole variety of vegetables, some of which we had never heard of before. It has been great!

We are welcome to visit the farm anytime. We are also welcome to come and work the farm if we want to! We have camped on the grounds a few times. We have met the farmers and are familiar with their farm practices. We know that our farmers strive to grow a variety of crops in a natural and sustainable manner. That means a lot to us!

Being part of the CSA has been a catalyst, leading to other changes in our shopping and eating habits. We have become more particular about our meat and dairy choices as well. We don’t by any means buy all organic foods. This is all a work in progress as we seek a balance between our budget, our health and our ethics. We have definitely found that choosing food is not a simple matter. It is another area in which I think my choices really matter, not only for me and my family, but also for our local economy and perhaps the food industry in general.

What, if any, changes have you made in food choices as you work toward a healthier you?

On Running

It was 2008.  I wasn’t exactly unhealthy.  I wasn’t unhappy.  I suppose you could say I was ‘good’.  One weekend, I went to cheer on some of my in-laws as they ran a relay marathon.  The team included my father-in-law, who had recently turned sixty.  I was so inspired by him, and frankly, I was a little disappointed in myself.  Why was I sitting on my couch when my sixty year old father-in-law was training for, and running, a relay marathon?  I suddenly felt I was squandering my good health and capable body.  It dawned on me that 2008 marked fifteen years since my heart surgery that truly gave me license to be active.  Fifteen years prior, yes, I did have limitations, but not anymore!  Why waste this chance to be active and healthy?  That week I started the Couch to 5k program and ran my first 5k that summer.  I’m still not as consistent as I’d like to be with running, but it is something I enjoy and try to make a regular part of my life.

I’ve come to believe that having a strong, healthy body is valuable and a worthy goal.  I can better participate in my own life when I am in good shape.  I have more energy, and I am better able to keep up with my children and meet my responsibilities.  Surely fitness is a good place to start as I strive to be not simply good, but to be good for something!

How has fitness benefited you?  What do you look forward to achieving or experiencing as you work toward a healthier you? 

Hello and welcome!

Welcome to Be Not Simply Good!  My name is Melissa.  I live in Minneapolis with my husband and two children.

Henry David Thoreau said, “Be not simply good; be good for something.”  I have spent most of my life being good.  I generally stay out of trouble and do what is expected of me.  I have found that it is possible to be ‘good’ without really striving or growing.  My goal, as Thoreau put it, is to be not simply good, but to be good for something.

This blog documents my effort to make good choices as I strive to live a healthy life and positively impact my family and community.  I think that making thoughtful choices about the small things can make a big difference.  I hope to learn from both my successes and failures.  After all, I won’t grow if I don’t try!  In sharing my journey, I hope to meet others who are also striving to do their best in life.  I hope we will learn from and inspire each other!