The Power of Three

Ecclesiastes 4:12 “Though one may be overpowered, two can withstand.  A cord of three strands cannot easily be broken.”

I love this verse.  It has so much meaning, and recently, it’s been playing out in a tangible way.  A few, actually.  Allow me to explain. 

1. The trinity is three.  Not that they will ever be broken, not even just one of them, because they’re divine, but three is one of my favorite numbers.  I actually like the number 9, because it’s 3 x 3.  And I was born in ’90 and graduated in ’09.  And I like palindromes.  Seriously off-topic.  Moving on.

2. I have two sisters.  They are best friends with each other, and they can withstand tons.  I have relationships with each one of them that’s different.  But when the three of us are together?  Like, wow. 

3. My relationship with God, and my relationship with Dr. Wile E. Coyote.  Both of them?  Try an all caps WOW.  It’s crazy.  I tell both of them what’s up, and Dr. WEC comforts me with God’s words and his own.  Even though D and I are 9 hours away and I can’t tangibly feel God’s hugs, words can be like a hug to me.  He points me to Christ, and I point him right back.  I am amazed at all that God can do with one person.  With two people who have devoted themselves to him?  *Head shake in amazement.*

4. This was the scripture at my parents’ wedding.  I just discovered that when I mentioned the verse to my mom.  What an example I have grown up under.  I am so gosh darn blessed. 

5. I don’t think my sisters will read this post, but I this verse is also a prayer for each of them, that if/when they do find a “somebody,” that their relationship will stand like the verse says, as well.  Husband, wife, and God.  I pray that they are pointed to Christ all the time.  This is the prayer for my other family and friends, too.  I have gotten to know people who aren’t both believers, and it has affected their faith.  I don’t know why I have been made aware of this, but I don’t want this to happen to anyone in my family or my friends, either.  I pray that all stand up in their faith, and that their faith may grow like crazy all the time. 

I love authentic relationships based on heavenly things.  Relationships based on worldly things will crumble and fall.  I’m not talking about significant-other relationships, but friendships, as well.  I can talk about my faith with my best friends and we can talk about what God’s been doing in our lives and talk about the Word.  There is such a thing as relationships like that, and they are awesome.  In church on Sunday, we heard a testimony from a guy who was like, “Why didn’t anybody tell me sooner!?” in reference to the life that God can give you (salvation).  I went through a lot of crap in high school, with the MS and all that, affecting me each day.  Even then, I was aching for authentic friends, but I didn’t know it.  I was kind of a loner and a little different, I’ll admit.  But I didn’t know there were such things as “authentic friends” to be looking for.  So now I’m telling you.  If you don’t have authentic friends you can tell anything to, why not try and get deeper?  Why not meet someone new at church and be real?  But only if the other party is willing to be real, as well.  I don’t know.  I just feel like telling you, my readers, that yes, there is more out there.  Keep strong in your faith, and keep praying.  God is cookin’ up some pretty awesome things (even if it takes YEARS of praying for it, it’s worth it). 

Until next time,



Did I just have mud rubbed in my eyes?

It’s crazy how you don’t notice things God is doing sometimes, and then suddenly, it’s like your eyes have been opened and you see him everywhere.  Like how I had a pretty great last week at the elementary school, and I received hugs from students as they were leaving the room as I stood there for the last time with their class.  Today, I drove around a lot, and it rained tons.  But on my last drive home, I saw two different rainbows.  Beautiful.  And those cloud formations were just lovely.  There’s also something about a combine in a field that makes me smile.  And last weekend, I got to go and see Dr. Wile E. Coyote in person (we met halfway in the middle, which happens to be the town he went to college in, so he knows it well), and we went on dates and spent time together and read the word together.  It was great.  Or noticing that South Dakota, where I live, doesn’t have the gas tax that Minnesota has?  (It’s ridiculous.)  Getting to spend time with Youngest Sister and hang out with Sarah and have discipleship with my girls and find such enjoyment playing music!  Music is a whole ‘nother beauty in itself that I could go on and on about.  But I have in the past.  I went out for lunch with the ‘rents, and my mom was joking that she would call Doc WEC’s workplace and ensure that he had November 29th off so he could come for thanksgiving.  Seriously, if anyone knows how to get one off work, let me know.  Thanksgiving is also my birthday.  Just sayin.

Looking around, I see the many blessings that have been in my life.  My family, the opportunity I’ve had to go to school and become a teacher, my friends.  Dr. Wile E. Coyote is a blessing, and we point each other to Jesus so much.  The fact that my family lives so close to me for a time?  The fact that the pre-doc was accepted to med school already?  So many things.  And while I ask for more and expect the LORD to continue to do wondrous things, I can only say thank you and praise him for what he has done so far.  I look back on my life in its entirety and see how far he’s brought me.  I submitted my book proposal last week.  I ask for prayers for that.  And for the future and all that encompasses it.  I trust God with it, and I am super happy that someone is standing next to me, holding my hand and walking and trusting with me the One who holds all things together.

Smiling especially thankfully,


Bredlow Family, an after-reunion reflection

In 1928, Clarence and Annabelle Bredlow were married.  The next generation of families reflects the heritage of faith, laughter, and love.  Now there is another generation, and looking around at the sixty-some of us in Iowa at the family reunion this last weekend, the heritage lives on.  The youngest great-grandbaby is nine months, and

Left to Right. Back row: Myra, Velma, Letha, Nola, Judy, Melinda, Pam; Front row: Sheryl, Shelly, Carolyn (my mama)
Left to Right. Back row: Myra, Velma, Letha, Nola, Judy, Melinda, Pam; Front row: Sheryl, Shelly, Carolyn (my mama)

the oldest person there was Clarence and Annabelle’s daughter, Nola, who, at 77, has the same fun as anybody.  Nola wanted to get her feet wet and walk barefoot into a puddle after it had rained for a while on Sunday morning.  Pretty soon, there were a whole lot of them.

It was fun talking with family I hadn’t seen in a while and getting to know family I didn’t know much at all.  My mom’s cousin, Judy, is my paper-editor.  You know, the late-night, I-need-this-paper-edited-by-8am, college papers.  I ask one of her sons which one he is (because keeping track of them is like keeping track of us; hard until you get the names and faces lined up).  Then I tell him who I am, and he’s like, “Oh, you’re the one that sends my mom those papers late at night.”  Yep, that’s me.  “I’ve read some of them, and they’re way over my head.  You’re a good writer.”  I’m also almost done with college.  Interactions like that make me smile.

Many of the related-by-marriage in-laws expressed love at the acceptance of the family.  Mom’s cousin-in-law Dave gave a message at our Sunday worship, and comparing being adopted into the Bredlow family to being adopted by Christ.  Well, I worded that funny, and that’s not exactly what he said, but let’s take a minute to re-read the previous sentence.  It’s awesome being accepted by family, and he was transitioning into talking about being adopted, therefore, receiving inheritance.  Nobody can inherit something unless they’re family.  Anyway, I’ve heard many stories about first interactions with this family: My grandpa Dennis turning to his oldest’s new husband before a car trip and asking him if he went to the bathroom (car trips didn’t really stop until they got there back then).  My mom and her sister creaming her current boyfriend and her brothe-in-lawr at a Sunday afternoon football game, thus getting broken up with the very next day.  My great-grandpa Clarence giving a specific mug (one with a frog in the bottom) to a newbie that visited his home.  I really like these things.  They’re hilarious.  So when Dr. Wile E.

I have inked out names for the protection of the commenters.  I don't know why.  But there you go.
I have inked out names for the protection of the commenters. I don’t know why. But there you go.

said I should ask my family permission if he could come (even though he ended up not), I laid down the perfect set-up (we’ll call it “on purpose”).  I winced, but I laughed real hard, too.  They were nice.  Could’a been worse.  🙂

Fun fact: I was named after Annabelle.  However, my full name is “Anna” and not “Annabelle” because apparently, Grandma Annabelle always regretted combining her first and middle names, because her birth name was Anna Belle Carlson. Out of fun, I sometimes combine my first and middle name, Anna Elizabeth, to Annabeth, to be like my great-grandma I didn’t know.

Also to note: a photo does exist of ALL of us (that were there at the time said picture was taken), but I cannot find it.  However, I shall share a picture of Dennis’s family (he was one of Clarence and Annabelle’s sons).  The only people missing are my sisters, Christina and Laura.

Here’s to a pretty cool family (lifting…coffee mugs high?  But not as many of them drink coffee, really.  Well, there’s enough of us, maybe).


Left to right. Back row: Byron, Bruce, Pam, Greg, Jenni, Tyler, Tim, Jonathan (my papa), and Brian. Front Row: Trey, Lois, Heidi, Anna (me!), Marlene, Trigg, Carolyn, Sheryl
Left to right. Back row: Byron, Bruce, Pam, Greg, Jenni, Tyler, Tim, Jonathan (my papa), and Brian. Front Row: Trey, Lois, Heidi, Anna (me!), Marlene, Trygg, Carolyn, Sheryl


A Spontaneous Black Hills Adventure

Once upon a time, the Olsons thought it would be fun to go on a family vacation.  The fieldwork was at a good place to leave for a few days, and there were four days all summer when Jonathan and Carolyn were free.  But Laura (daughter #3) couldn’t get off of work for that many days in a row, and she had already made plans to go to Omaha and hang out with a bestie of hers.  Christina (daughter #2) was working in Custer State Park at the Black Hills Playhouse, so we’d go there.  Anna (me, aka daughter #1) was home for the summer and it turned out that the four days Jonathan and Carolyn (the ‘rents) were looking at for the proposed vacation were free for her, too.  So they went on vacation.  Anna kept a log of the vacation, but it is eight pages long so I won’t bore you with it.  Speaking in third person is a bit odd, maybe.  But whatever—Anna thinks it’s fun, therefore so do I.

Badlands National ParkHighlights:

-Seeing Laura and talking with her for an hour and a half before we hit I-90.  She handed Jonathan a bag from PacSun and said, “This is for you.  To give to Christina.”  She’s a gem.

-The corn palace and Wall Drug, neither of which is as impressive as when you’re eight, so Anna learned.  She also learned that when you’re taking a lot of pictures of a building, you are labeled a tourist, even if home is a mere few hours away.  We were such cliché tourists.  Except we didn’t buy any souvenirs the whole trip.  So, only mostly cliché.

-Seeing people from our hometown when we were staying at a hotel in Wall, SD.  Can’t go anywhere, seriously.  We were at Badlands National Park, and Carolyn’s like, “Quick, they have Minnesota plates.  We might know them and start talking!”  We didn’t, but that was close.  We knew other people that were headed to the Black Hills that week.  Somehow, we find each other.

-Changing time zones after six hours on the road (who knew you could go six hours west and change, but you’d have to drive for days before it switches going east).  That certainly threw things off.  It was like daylight savings, but we were so busy and doing things that you didn’t notice the “extra hour”.  You used it for other things.  And then after we get home, everyone’s asleep by 9:30pm Mountain Time, even though I had seen 2:30am Central Time on the trip a few times.  Is that confusing?  Probably.

IMG_0158-Mount Rushmore.  During the day and the night lighting ceremony, which Carolyn (“Mom” as I call her) talks about in a blog here.  I’d never really understood why Roosevelt was there, but each of the four presidents stand for something in the original vision of America.  Have we strayed from what our country is supposed to stand for?  Who knows.  Also learned a bunch about Borglum, the sculptor, who died before it was finished, when we went to his museum in Keystone, where we stayed.  Not at his museum, ‘cuz that would be creepy.  In Keystone.

-Crazy Horse.  We went to the visitor center this time.  It’s super big and the stories behind it are pretty cool.  Did you know they’ve been working on it for, like, 60 years?  And the four faces of Rushmore could fit in CH’s head.  Whoa! IMG_0189

-Seeing Christina.  She came to the hotel we were at twice and didn’t leave until after midnight, but it was fun to talk to her.  We took her out for supper one day and we went to the Black Hills Playhouse and saw “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” which was excellent.  She’s a tech intern there this summer, and her bio in the play bill made her sound real cool (‘cuz she pretty much is).

Is it just me, or does this bear look like it’s peein’ a stream?

-Bear Country, USA, nowhere else will never see more bears together even if you’re born with them and they don’t kill you but accept you as one of their own.  There was a slight hold up because bears ahead were playing with other and climbing on things and someone was breaking the rules and had their window open and were eating Lays Potato Chips and the bear wanted them.  Or he was just climbing on a pole and cute from a distance.

Anyhoo, all of us—I mean, Jonathan, Carolyn, and Anna—are still real tired but moving ahead, ‘cuz we’re starting barley harvest today.  And Anna’s giving lessons today.  All of the previously mentioned people have a lot to do this week is what I’m basically saying in too many words.  Vacation was fun and the hills were pretty, but I really missed the flat prairie I grew up in.  Until the next blog Anna writes not in third person,


God’s Awesome Plan is ALWAYS Better Than Mine

It all started when a prof of mine asked if I was giving lessons this summer and added “(HINT)” at the end of the question in an email.  I thought I was going to be staying in Sioux Falls all summer, so I went right to work, contacting the right people to reserve space and get everything lined up at my school.  And then, I didn’t get any of the jobs I applied for in Sioux Falls, so I made the decision to be home for the summer.  I had already been in the works for arranging lessons in Sioux Falls, so I decided that I’d just commute.  It’s only a two hour drive.  Knowing I’d be home over the summer, I called the local music store near there and talked to the owner about giving lessons.  He said he wanted to meet me before recommending me to anyone, but that I could teach percussion and brass, as there was already a woodwind instructor there (himself).  “If there are lessons to give, you can give them.”  Well, that didn’t sound very promising, so I stuck with my decision to be in Sioux Falls, as well.  And then.  I don’t know many facts, but apparently an area middle school band director just left, so a few of his students were wanting summer lessons, so they called the local music store.  So far, I have one student in Sioux Falls and four at home.  I am alternating weeks there and here, choosing Tuesdays to be my lesson day.  Percussion is my main instrument, so I am doing that in Sioux Falls, but I am doing both percussion and brass at home.  I did take trumpet lessons last semester and I understand how all the others work (I’ve played them all, just not recently).  I am student teaching next semester, after all, and teaching all the instruments in lessons in the school.  And, I’m only teaching one non-middle schooler.  Have I mentioned that I want to teach beginners and middle school?  The one non-middle schooler is an adult who wants to refresh her skill and just get playing again.  I don’t know what that will be like, and I’m kind of nervous for that one, but seriously, things are just going perfectly.

When I look back on this last spring (was it spring?  It was like, winter, summer, bleh), I am kind of amazed.  I fought so hard to stay in Sioux Falls, but God’s way is always best.  Obviously, he didn’t want me there.  I even turned down a part-time job there because I felt that I was supposed to—first, because I thought I was going to get this last full-time job, but now, I realize, because I was supposed to be here.  God blows my mind all the time, and this situation is no different.  So much good has been happening here at home, and I’ve only been here for, like, two weeks.  As my last post talked about, I get to help out with this century farm party.  I’ve actually been helping out on the farm, and I’m really loving it.  My sister, Laura, was always helping dad out before, so there was little for me to do.  I know she’s sad that she’s not helping out on the farm this year, but I honestly don’t think I would get to do what I’ve been doing if she were here.  She is stretching out her independence, and I know that she is learning a lot about herself and just what it is to be independent in Sioux Falls where she is working this summer.  Laura, if you’re reading this, I love you a ton, and I am in no way trying to be mean.  I’m just in awe about God’s work.  My appreciation of this farm has grown as I’ve been learning about its history, and being able to help out in the ways I have been has certainly enriched this appreciation, as well.  My dad, and all the farmers in this family before him, is just awesome.  Seriously.  My sister Christina is working out near Rapid City this summer, so this is the longest time it’s been just me and the ‘rents since before Christina was born (really? that’s kind of crazy!).  I am keeping probably too busy, this being summer and all, but I love every moment of it! (God continually leaves me full of awe, which isn’t “awe-ful,” but only some.)

I hope all of you are having a great start to your summers, as well!


Saturday Smiley: The Olson Farm

Daniel and family (his sons and brother) in the corn crib at the Minnesota farm
Daniel and family (his sons and brother) by the corn crib at the Minnesota farm

Once upon a time, a man named Daniel moved with his wife and four children from Iowa to Minnesota.  In Minnesota, he bought a farm.  One of his brothers was already living in the town near the farm he bought.  After they had grown, his children moved all over, except one of his sons, Nuel, who took over the home farm.

Fast forward one hundred years from the date that Daniel moved.  TODAY!  Yes, that’s right.  Our farm becomes a century farm this year!  And while Daniel signed the deed in February, we are honoring the event this summer.  Nuel’s son Kenny took over the farm from him, and his other son, Bob, moved to a farm nearby.  Kenny’s son Jonathan took over the farm from him, and that’s my dad, so it is currently a four generation farm!  It’s really exciting.  And, because I’m home this summer, I’m helping to scan and organize old pictures in a slideshow and generally help when needed for the century farm party we’ll be having in a couple weeks.  Let me share some things I’ve learned:

Nuel's Sign

–          This farm actually has a name.  Daniel paid 50 cents for it, and technically, it still has that name.

–          Nuel began growing certified seed in the ‘30s.  That tradition stands to this day.

–          Daniel had an impressive ‘stash.  That’s a family trait, as well, as my dad and Bob’s sons all have great mustaches.  (Bob being Kenny’s brother, Nuel’s other son.)

–          Nuel and his wife, Myrtle, both went to the Ag School at the University of Minnesota in the 20s (currently the Twin Cities campus).  Kenny, Bob, and both of their wives went to an Ag School that later became the University of Minnesota Morris.

–          This farm has changed a lot since Daniel bought it.  Only two of the buildings that were here when he moved here still stand today.  Another, we tore down about a month ago. (The two buildings being the old corn crib and the house.)


– When you take a picture, label it so that future generations know the what and who and when of a picture. (Seriously, this stuff is important!)

– Basically, my family has been awesome for generations.  I so have proof.

I love family history, and I appreciate this farm so much more now knowing all of the history behind it.  I never completely understood why we didn’t have animals on our farm, but the rich tradition of growing certified seed is so worth much more!  My mom has been talking about all this awesome history on her blog, too, so be sure to check it out.  It has been SO MUCH FUN learning everything I have so far!  We’re having a Century Farm Party in a couple weeks, like I said, and we invited people that have impacted or are impacted by this farm in some way.  The list is quite long, but our farm has expanded over the last century, so there’s room for everyone.


This farm and all its history is the reason for my smiley today!  — Anna Olson (Great-great granddaughter of Daniel Olson)

Smiley Saturday: Sisters

My sisters are my reason for smiles this week;

They are pretty awesome and pretty neat.

We make fun really sarcastically;

We play mean but we’re not, really.

We joke and tease,

We laugh and…sneeze.

They pick on me, true.

But for them it’s not hard to do.

Those two are like, telepathically connected.

I don’t always understand but I accept it.

We are sympathetic and support each other.

We proof papers and talk together.

We’ve been getting along more lately;

At least it seems that way to me.

My sisters are my heroes, the best;

The two people (my age) I’ve known longest.

From Christina giving me a piggy-back when I couldn’t walk,

To Laura and my Twitter conversations of silly talk.

We like going on real random adventures,

Some are still remembered because of the goofy pictures.

Because we grew up on a farm real rurally,

“Ladies” by now we’ll never be.

I think we turned out pretty well,

But because I’m one of them I can’t tell.

My sisters helped me become who I am now,

We taught each other while growing up somehow.

So here’s a smile to the sisters,

Who will forever come before misters!

A Music Nerd (me) at Christmas and Bananagrams

I’m a music nerd.  It’s okay; I know it (and am proud of it)!  Usually for Christmas and my birthday, I ask for some high-tech or simply awesome something for my playing (instrumental playing, not messing around playing….much).  Last year for Christmas, I got a Dr. Beat metronome.  And it’s really fun to mess around with.  To see how fast the voice can say, “one-two-three-four” or the different tones that ding or click at you.  And you have NO IDEA how much it has helped me with my practice!  It can sub-divide into eighth notes, sixteenth notes, and triplets!

But THIS year (insert chuckle), oh boy!  SO EXCITED.  I got a xylophone book, a marimba book, two shakers, and three small frame drums!!!  AND I NOW HAVE PRINT MUSIC ON MY COMPUTER!  I totally don’t mean to brag or anything, but my music nerd-ness is quite content and happy to be messing around with stuff and playing with it for the next while.

Oh, and I was using music terms while playing Bananagrams with Christina and Dad last night, I used terms like “MIDI” (a keyboard that hooks up to computer and does technical stuff); “semiquaver” (an eighth note…I only had one ‘m’ so I couldn’t make it any smaller), and “zither” (a Chinese keyboard instrument).  Christina asked why she couldn’t just use Spanish, but I told her, these words are English.  We told Viktoria last year she had to use English while playing, so it’s fair.  Oh, and Dad didn’t know what “oboe” was.  It’s a double reed instrument, in case any of you were also wondering.  So if you have a lot of vowels and a ‘b,’ there ya go.  The funniest part of Bananagrams last night was that dad had mom spell out the word “philanthropist,” and he was determined to spell out that word.  So he spelled it out, leaving blanks where letters he didn’t have went.  He eventually did spell it.  =)

Anyway, our Christmases are just beginning.  This afternoon, the Hansons will be here, and we’ll celebrate Christmas with them tomorrow.  On Wednesday, I’m leaving for TCX!  So excited.  But on Thursday, the Bredlow side will get here and they’ll leave the day and day after I get home (Sunday).  =)

Merry Christmas, everyone!  I hope your Christmas break is fun and family-filled as ours!  (And, if you are playing Bananagrams with some people and you want to use unique music terms to throw ‘em off, just let me know.  I got cha back.)

Anna =)^2

Smiley Saturday: My Family

So…I shall try to post a smiley consistently from now on I think (Smileys started here: ).  It’s a good idea!  (Judy from Considering the Options has Thankful Thursdays: )

So today (Christmas Eve!)’s smiley is my family!  It’s the little things, you know?  We are a very loving and totally hilarious family– I love them all! And after being home for like, a week, I can specify:

Mom makes me smile, for the little things like…making me a mocha in the morning!  And when she starts laughing after she had just taken a large gulp of something at the dinner table (I don’t know if anyone else noticed yesterday, but I was just WAITING for that water to come out her nose.  But then she swallowed it.  You can imagine my disappointment).

Dad makes me smile for his joking around, and…claiming that all this school finally taught us something when Christina and I announced last night we had one word for him: GOTABED.  (What he has been telling us every night since we were little chill’ins.)

Christina makes me smile with her completely random one-liners.  I can’t even remember anything specific, but she’s a theater major involved in an improv group at school.  You can imagine the hilariousness that surrounds her at times.

Laura makes me smile with her discrete way of saying something funny, for example: listening to a 90s station on SIRIUS on the way home from shopping last night, and turning to mom in an all-serious manner and saying: “This is my jam, mom.”  (Even though we didn’t listen to this stuff in the 90s…)

I love my family, for reasons far beyond this, and they are my smiley for today!  (IT’S CHRISTMAS EVE!)

Smiling extra, Anna =)^2