Skip to main content


She just didn't seem like the kind of person who could die.

Love her or hate her, if she was in the room, you knew about it.  She did not hold back.  She was strong-minded.  She was strong-willed.  She was strong.

She taught us that the loudest voice in the room does get heard, and that it's worth speaking up for what you believe in.

But she could make you laugh; she could put you at ease; she could melt a room with the sound of her laugh.  She asked questions.  She gave advice.  She cared.

It was "the summer of Crystal Pepsi," according to my brother.  And the summer of, "Joel, you could marry your cousin, you're not blood related."  It was the summer of, "I only have one rule:  no rough-housing."  It was just one of many summers that we spent as family: cousins sleeping out on the trampoline in sleeping bags, pigs named Louise, J-dip gone bad, late night kick-the-can, "NOT!", hot tub bubbles, "The White Cruise", house-boating trips, MTV and mattresses on the floor, camping under a hail storm, roasting s'mores in our living room fire place, Red Coral, and it was Mimi's pride and joy.  Her favorite place to be was wherever she could gather her family, her crazy bunch:  "Do you think other families have as much fun as our crazy bunch?"

No, Mimi, I don't think they do.

It's been years now, but looking back, I realize that those are some of the most special memories that I have.  That place, that family space, was special.  And being a part of something special makes you special.  

That's where it all began for me.  My first friends were my family members.  Family had fun.  Family cared.  Family was where I was accepted no matter what.  Family was home.  Family still is.  "You're not really home [from being away in Russia] until you're back with this gang, are you?"

Family was where I'd always get my yearly chocolate birthday cake.  I guess I can now finally come clean and say that I don't like chocolate cake, heck, I don't even really like cake that much.  But those cakes were for me, because Mimi remembered me.  And she wanted me to enjoy myself.  She wanted to celebrate who I was and whom I was becoming, all of this done in the glow of the family unit she'd formed.  She toasted me and my closest friends at a bridal luncheon the day before my wedding at the University Club.  She didn't quite know that it would mean the world to me, she did it because celebration is always the right choice.  It meant the world and more.  Thank you, Mimi.  You made my day, year after year after year.

And that's probably what she did best:  she celebrated.

"Get in this house!"  The door was never locked.  There was always more coffee (and cool whip.)  And once you came in, it was hard to get back out.

She knew how to throw a party (tips to follow.)

She knew how to treat children.  

She was generous.

She danced.

She sang.

She chose to party.

And she was the life of it.

Mimi, we will miss you, but we will continue to celebrate, just as you taught us.  We'll keep this crazy bunch active.  We'll stay family.  We'll remember.

I found a collection of Velveteen Rabbit books from my childhood that I brought back with me from my last trip to the States, thinking my daughter Anna was now old enough to enjoy them too. Tonight it struck me that my Grandma got those for me on one of our many shopping outings growing up together in Denver. Sorry, Anna, I'm taking my books back, they're from a party where I feasted on chocolate cake nearly 25 years ago. 

Godspeed, Mimi, as you become a real rabbit.  

Some of Mimi's tips on throwing a party:

1.  It's always better to have too much food than not enough.

2.  If you can read, you can cook.  (Originally Tissie's)

3.  Never put the food and the beverage in the same location at a party.  Keep your guests moving.

4.  Hide the dirty dishes in the oven!

5.  Nobody cares what your house looks like if you are good to people.


Popular posts from this blog

Spiritual Tourism 101

Today Anna and I joined our visiting friends from Eastern Washington on a trip to Christ the Savior Cathedral downtown. Often, when we host visitors, we try to resist the temptation to tell them everything we think we know about the people and places around them. From our own experience, we've learned that one of the greatest joys of travel involves coming into contact with a new culture, new ideas, and new traditions, and learning about those things first hand from the people who live there - that is what really creates a lasting impression and connection with any new place and people. 
We've created a spiritual tourism guide for Moscow which embraces this concept based on the Field Observation Process (FOP) featuring first hand interaction with the places and traditions of Russia, all within the context of building new friendships with the people that live here. The first trip, Spiritual Tourism 101, involves two of Russia's most spiritual locations: Christ the Savior Cat…

Maple Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Don't like brussel sprouts? No worries, these don't taste a thing like them! Our children asked for second (and third) helpings and as Dan remarked, they easily outshone everything else on the table. We took them to our Thanksgiving dinner as well as a Christmas party as they travel and reheat surprisingly well and complemented those more traditional dishes.

2 slices bacon
1 lb. brussel sprouts (thawed if frozen) sliced in half
1/2 an onion sliced into thin loops
Salt and pepper to season
3 TB maple syrup 3 TB apple cider vinegar *optional
1/4 cup raisins *optional

If using raisins, put them in a cup with the apple cider vinegar and set aside. (Raisins can soak over night for brighter flavor.)

In a cast iron skillet, cook 2 slices of bacon over medium heat. Remove bacon from pan to crumble once cool.

Using the hot bacon grease, add brussel sprouts and onion slices to the skillet and immediately season with salt and pepper. Adjust heat to medium low if…

Winter Bible Conference 2017

Peter was hunched up against the window of the high-speed train to Saint Petersburg, trying desperately to see how the train rolled along the rails when we got the message: "the health department has closed the location for the conference, please pray."
Many of the 115 students and staff from 17 cities across Russia were already en route, like us, to our annual Winter Bible Conference when this unexpected news hit. We arrived in St. Pete, shaking the softly falling snow from our luggage and hats, not fully knowing what to think or expect for this year's conference. However, while we were flying across Russia's rails, praying for help and provision, staff in St. Pete had hit the ground searching for a new location to fit our demographic and budget - not an easy task. In the end, we got our answer and miraculously nobody was lost in the shuffle.

The opening meeting emerged from non-stop logistical, physical, and relational chaos and met an audience surprisingly humble…