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Mary Biever | One Writing Mother | Tag Archive | Evansville Indiana
Tag Archive - Evansville Indiana

How Tri-State Women Turned My Life Upside Down in a Single Year

At Thursday night’s Christmas party with Tri-State Women, I shared how they had changed my life in a single year.

A year ago, I went to their Christmas party, when Cheryl Mochau, a visitor, spoke about her book He Knew I Would Tell. She had recently published it to share stories of God moments in her life and those of others. Because I had been to a Living Hell to Living Well retreat earlier that fall, hosted by TSW’s founder Kimberly Delcoco, where I had set a goal of writing a book within 5 years, I was intrigued.

So Cheryl and I made an appointment for a 1:1 over coffee, just before a January meeting of Tri-State Women.  Cheryl shared that she felt called to write a book and prayed to ask how to fit time to write it. She woke up early and realized God was giving her the time.

Always ready with a wisecrack, I told her that when God was ready for me to write a book, he would wake me up early to do it. I told her when it happened, I would write “Good morning” on her Facebook wall, and she would know what it meant.

Cheryl told me, “Don’t joke like that. God will take you seriously.”

The next morning, I woke up at 3 a.m. I realized it was time and started writing, getting up early and writing daily for a month. At the end of that month, my book He Uses It for Good was written. It took a lot of the rest of the year to work through the publication process.

But in that full circle of life, this year, it was my book I was talking about at Tri-State Women. After I told how my book began, Kim added insights I have to share.

It wasn’t just what happened to me that changed my life this year. It was my listening to God and saying yes when called. It was about Cheryl and me – and the other women like us – who encouraged one another and worked to inspire each other. In the process, that made an impact on our own lives, the lives of our friends, then our community, and beyond.

What I never expected after finishing my book was the tremendous relief born of sharing a story I had held inside for a lifetime, waiting for the time to be right to tell it. As I wrote the story, I prayed at each step for God to close doors and stop me if the time were wrong or if I should stay silent. Every single time, He pushed me forward.

And I said yes.

With that yes, my whole world is a little brighter – sort of like seeing the colors in the land of Oz after spending a lifetime in Kansas. I can open the door in the morning, hear birds chirping, and get so excited I call my family to the door so they too can hear their music.

Now I see that I had to tell my own story before I could write those of others.  This was not an end but was a beginning – future books will include a cookbook, a children’s story book which I hope  my husband will illustrate, and a book of meditations inspired by great hymns that sustained me for a lifetime.

Once I said yes to God, whole worlds of possibilities presented themselves.

And I learned that when you surround yourself with kind, compassionate friends who encourage you to aim higher and try new adventures, great things happen.

Thanks, Tri-State Women, most especially Kim and Cheryl.

How Seton Harvest Taught Me Cooking Lessons

Yesterday was my last day to pick up produce with Seton Harvest, a CSA sponsored by the Daughters of Charity in Evansville, Indiana.

As a gardener, I was skeptical when we joined that our family would benefit much from a weekly harvest share. We had our own 250 square foot vegetable garden that included over 20 tomato plants and a wide range of produce.

It turned out that for our own garden, weather extremes resulted in the worst garden we’ve ever had. A flooded spring, followed by a searing summer and more rain meant we didn’t harvest a single tomato until late October.

Had it not been for Seton , we wouldn’t have had much produce this year. I didn’t anticipate the variety. Each week became a discovery when I got to meet new vegetables and then research ways to cook vegetables I never knew existed. Seton pushed my cooking to find ways to use the new produce. Some of the new foods we tried:

    • Turnips taste good when they are slow-cooked with a pot roast and vegetables.
    • Rutabegas are good mixed with mashed potatoes.
    • Kale tastes wonderful when cooked in olive oil. We liked it best as krispy kale, drizzled in oil and vinegar and baked in the oven.
    • Tatsoi is a real treat. When its stalks are sliced like celery into a salad, they add a subtle, peppery zing.
    • Okra does taste good in soups – both the green and red varieties.
    • My great-aunt’s bean salad is marvelous when made with freshly steamed green and wax beans.
    • Yukina savoy is marvelous with a Lebanese beef and rice dish I discovered.
    • Collard greens really are good to eat and easy to make.
    • Fresh beets taste totally different from those out of a can.
    • Bok choy, swiss chard, and other greens are good.
    • Napa cabbage is positively beautiful and delicious.
    • Daikon radishes add a total zing to salads.
    • Parsnips are wonderful in vegetable soup.

Another perk was when I got to pick fresh blackberries or strawberries. And when I needed fresh herbs, I just brought scissors to clip them. We did pick up more traditional foods too like lettuce, tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and green beans.

Despite the difficult year of gardening, Seton produced over 37,000 pounds of fresh produce this season. Though that’s down from last season’s 40,000 pounds, it provided enough for all the families in the CSA and to donate to area food pantries.

Over the harvest season, my weekly treks to Seton became mental health breaks. The moment I got out of my car each week, I felt a peace and serenity. Regardless of how hectic my week was, this was a chance to stop, be still, and savor the silence in their fields.

The silence would be broken up by the children of other shareholders, and that made it that much better. As I gathered my final share yesterday, a mother with 3 young children went to pick some final arugala. Her children ran with excitement at the prospect. These preschoolers delight in picking eggplant, their favorite vegetable. Earlier this fall, kids got to help dig sweet potatoes. When we had a CSA potluck, the kids got to go on hayrides around the property Each week, kids get to see something growing in the field.

Children – and adults – can learn healthier ways of eating and cooking. This year, Seton Harvest was my nudge that provided fresh, local produce to my family – and taught me some new cooking tricks as well.




Good-bye Trees

Lifting the tree over our house.

Yesterday, we dropped two maples, one in front of our house and one behind our house. Storms had damaged them too many times, and they were dying.  With a house surrounded by tall trees, each time it’s stormed, for years, I’ve prayed for tree strength through every storm, hoping we would stay safe.

I didn’t realize how attached I was to those trees until they were being dropped. We moved into our home when our daughter was a baby. For 17 years, every happy family event in our yards took place under those trees – from the time my children learned to walk to the present, as they learn to back the car out the driveway.

The summer of 1995 had a storm that first damaged the 100+ year old maple in our back yard. After the storm, I bought Richard a chainsaw for Father’s Day so we could clear damage from our back yard. A little more fell in a storm in 2003. When front line winds from Hurricane Ike hit in 2008, more of the tree fell. We again put the chainsaw to use.

Ice storm roof damage

The scariest damage happened in the ice storm of 2009. Large parts of the tree fell, including a 15 foot limb that went through our roof and pierced our daughter’s bedroom ceiling just above her bed. (We were in the basement thank God.) The tree stayed intact during storms this spring, but it was time.

We knew we would one day drop the trees. It was a matter of being able to pay for it and hiring the right company – we knew we needed an arborist with appropriate insurance in case something went wrong.

This year, as I began to help Go Local Pros, a group  of Evansville area contractors with their marketing, I met one of their members, American Eagle Tree Service.  They gave us an estimate and dropped our trees.

The back tree was a special challenge. The driveway to the back yard is narrow. The tree was too close to both our house and our neighbor’s and was surrounded by power lines. So when they dropped the tree, they moved their truck into our front yard, positioned their crane over our house, and lowered their tree cutter, chainsaw in hand, into the tree. Everything went much better than I expected.

I prayed for his safety, and all went well.  This morning, they returned to grind the stumps. It’s culture shock to look back and see bare ground where trees have always been.

Yes, I’ll miss the trees. But I’ll rest more easily, especially during storms, knowing the two dying trees beside our home are no longer there.

Sawing the base of the tree

Can You Hear Me Now, Walgreens?

Wow! I had an incredible experience at Walgreen’s yesterday. It had suddenly started snowing in Evansville, Indiana. I ran into the Walgreen’s on north Green River Road. As I checked out, I was blown away.

Mary, a beauty advisor helping as a cashier, listened to the concerns of the older lady checking out in front of me. The lady was scared about the snow and ice. Mary listened to her, comforted the lady, and wished her well. She took the simple job of checking someone out and made a real connection with the lady. At the same time, she did her job quickly and well.

When it was my turn, she was equally friendly to me. I was so impressed that I checked into Walgreen’s and FourSquare to tell them what a great job their employee had done.

A friend responded, asking if they answered me.

I wish I had been able to say yes. So I looked up Walgreen, saw they were on Twitter, and again told them I had complimented them.

No answer.

Their Twitter feed shows that they do post some promotional info. They have 13,000 followers.

However, at least yesterday, they were not monitoring their at mentions to see what customers were saying.

What an opportunity. Twitter is not a broadcast medium. It is a method by which to build stronger relationships with customers. 

Lesson for businesses:

  1. If you’re on Twitter, monitor your feed. Answer customer comments in real time, and you’ll build customer relationships for life.
  2. If you think you’re not on Twitter, your customers already are, and you don’t know what they are saying.
  3. If you have great employees like Mary, who already get how to listen and engage customers, train them in social media and make them part of your social networking team.
  4. If Walgreen’s ever sees this blog, or my Tweets, I truly hope someone will tell Mary that on a snowy day in Evansville, she did a great job, and customers noticed.

Thanks, Mary, for making a snowy bad day a little better. And thanks, Walgreens, for hiring great people.