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


Beauty: The 7 Wonders of the World

Beauty is defined by as “the quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind, whether arising from sensory manifestations (as shape, color, sound, etc), a meaningful design or pattern, or something else (as a personality in which high spiritual qualities are manifest).”  To end the class I took for j-term, we looked at apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic narratives.  We read The Road by Cormac McCarthy and watched Children of Men, among others.  The commonality in all the apocalyptic narratives is the lack of beauty; lack of hope.  The road is bleak and full of violence.  The narratives end in the death of an important character.  What do you find beautiful?  I have listed some things (because I love lists a lot) that I find beautiful.  These are what I consider the “Seven Wonders of the World.”  I also commented on them.

7. The human body:  It seems that people are always trying to improve their bodies.  And yes, they should be taken care of.  The body is a temple of God.  But can you pause a moment and wonder about its complexity and utter beauty?  God paid special attention to it when he created it, and breathed life into humankind, unlike every other creation.  Whoa!  And it’s just beautiful.  Some of my friends to use the excuse when they’re looking at somebody attractive that they’re just “admiring God’s creation.”

6. A smile and laughter: It is amazing how a simple smile can brighten a day.  Laughter, too, is something beautiful.  A real laugh, not just a polite laugh.  Both smiles and laughter are encouraged daily.  Find something to smile about every day!  They’re beautiful!

5. Art: Beauty can be found in the paintings and sculptures of artists.  A theater house, a cathedral, the pyramids?  Beautiful.  Beauty can be found in the art of creation.  A Midwest sunset or sunrise?  The Colorado Mountains?  Simply beautiful!

4. Words: I am quite taken with words.  They are simply a different medium that artists may use.  A poem, a novel, a journal– beautiful.  The most beautiful words ever are found in the Bible.  And if you don’t read directly from the Bible everyday but only read people’s comments about what is written in the Bible?  You should check it out!  Because, yes, beauty is found there.  (It’s the word of God!)

3. Music: Music can be found in many things, not just a college band playing great music (I say that as we leave for tour today).  The music of nature, the music of the soul, the music of praise to the creator of all.  I can’t even express in words the beauty of music.  It is found everywhere!  Sound in general, really.  God SPOKE the universe and everything else into creation.  Sound.  Music.  When a parent reads to their child before bedtime, music.  Spoken word; daily conversation.  Music.  Beautiful.

2. Love: Without love, I don’t think there would be beauty.  Love is beautiful and it ultimately points to the most beautiful being in the universe: God.  His love is infinite and beyond understanding.  And he gave us the ability to love, as well.  Love in relationships between a parent and child, relatives, friends, significant others, and so many more.  God’s greatest command is to love.  He has given us this beautiful gift.  What more can we do, but pass it on?

Beautiful Cross

1. Christ: Christ is the ultimate beauty and love and sacrifice.  All the other beautiful things are found in him.  Christ paid the penalty for our sins even as we were his enemies.  He loved us THAT MUCH. It blows my mind every day.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17b-19)

Where do you find beauty?

Anna 🙂


Changin’ it up! (But SMILING)

So, I sign off most of my posts with “Smiles Squared” with a little smiley face to the power of two.  That’s what this =)^2 is if you didn’t figure it out.  So, I have re-named my blog to “Smiles Squared.”  I just wanted to let you all know that before you start getting weirded out that some other person’s blog is getting emailed to you or something.  Still Anna!  I’ve been doing “Saturday Smileys” for a bit now, and I plan to keep it up.  Also, I created the “Smiles Squared” logo that I have recreated on the computer and now have as my blog icon thing, originally in high school.  Smiles and smiley faces?  I like them a lot.  I like smiling.  Smiling’s my favorite!  So, in honor of the new title and blog icon thing, here are some smiley quotes:

A smile confuses an approaching frown.  ~Author Unknown

A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.  ~Phyllis Diller

The world always looks brighter from behind a smile.  ~Author Unknown

A smile is the light in the window of your face that tells people you’re at home.  ~Author Unknown

A laugh is a smile that bursts.  ~Mary H. Waldrip

Smile – sunshine is good for your teeth.  ~Author Unknown

A smile you send will always return. ~Indian Proverb

Beauty is power; a smile is its sword.  ~Charles Read

Smiles are great investments: the more you collect, the better you feel. ~Author Unknown

Before you put on a frown, make absolutely sure there are no smiles available.  ~Jim Beggs

If you smile when no one else is around, you really mean it.  ~Andy Rooney

Life is like a mirror, we get the best results when we smile at it.  ~Author Unknown

I have made it a goal of mine to make people smile by my writing or by doing things or saying things to people.  I don’t always do a very good job, but if I make only one person smile all day, then I feel good.  =)

Smiling ALWAYS, Anna =)^2

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!

Smiley Saturday: Laughter

So this week’s smiley is LAUGHTER!  I really like to laugh.  I mean, who doesn’t?  Yesterday (which was Saturday…missed it again), I got to hang out with a bunch of awesome Sioux Empire Cru people at the Winter Leader’s Retreat.  It was so much fun to be with some of the people I only get to see a few times a year!  Yes, we laughed.  At embarrassing stories, at funny jokes, at jokes that were so dumb you had to laugh anyway, at other people laughing.

Also, this morning in church, Pastor Hickey talked about joy and the Holy Spirit dwelling together.  He made the whole congregation laugh a few times, which was the point, I think.  Acts 13:52 says, “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”  It was funny when he’s like, “Can you imagine the bruises they had?”  Then he acted out hitting a “buddy” on the shoulder.  “Did you see that!?”  He hit another “buddy.”  “Look at that!”

Things we think are terrible now, we think is funny later.  Pastor Hickey said that when one of his kids started throwing a temper tantrum, he’d be like, “Hold on a sec.” and run get the video camera.  I remember, or maybe have heard the story too many times?  Or seen the picture. ..of a time when we still lived at the West Farm and I was mad.  I WOULD NOT smile for the picture.  So, Mom and Dad took it anyway.  Yeah, yeah.  I’ll let you see it, too.

Don’t tell anyone, though, okay?  The point was that the funniest thing in our lives will most likely be ourselves.  I mean, I’ll laugh about it now.  Mostly.

We also talked this morning about the fact that enjoying God is what it’s all about.  And I’ve loved the fact that yesterday, even, God kept showing me his face and making me laugh.  So, not only can I pretty much have a reason to laugh at everyone here on earth, JESUS makes me laugh, too!

So, Kate said yesterday that she wished there were someplace for all our Christian jokes.  Here are some of the ones that I was telling yesterday (courtesy of my dad, and Christina):

Who made the most money in the Bible?  …the pharaoh’s daughter, ‘cuz she went to the bank and pulled out a profit!

Who had no parents in the Bible?  …Joshua, son of Nun!

Once three men went golfing: Moses, Jesus, and an old man.  Moses hit into a water trap.  He parted the water, and hit it out of the trap.  Jesus, likewise, hit his ball into the water trap.  He walked on the water and hit it out of the trap.  The old man hit into the water trap.  Then, a fish grabbed the ball in his mouth.  Then, a bird swooped down and picked up the fish, and as he was flying over the green, the fish drops the ball and it lands in the hole.  Moses turns to Jesus and says, “I hate golfing with your dad.”

The Devil and Jesus were in an argument about this new-fangled internet thing.  So finally God is all like, “We’ll settle this.  Here is a list of tasks that you have to finish in an allotted amount of time.”  So, the Devil and Jesus are working furiously.  When they have only ten minutes left, there is a lightning storm.  The Devil loses everything he’s done, and has to start over.  But when he looks over at Jesus, he sees that Jesus is almost done– he just picked up where he left off.  The Devil’s like, “God!  This isn’t fair!  Why do I have to start over and he doesn’t?”  And God looks at him and says, “Well, Jesus saves.”

Haha!  Okay, if you guys have any more, please comment below!  Like I said, I have my family to thank for these.  And I’m not the best re-teller, but it works. Yay laughter!  Reason for my smiley this week.

PS.  I never laughed out loud much last year.  I mean, I laughed, but it was just kind of a frozen smile on my face as the bench I was sitting on vibrated ‘cuz I was shaking.  Thank you, Project, for teaching me how to actually laugh.  I guess I didn’t realize how much I laughed before, now that I make noise.

Laughing and smiling lots, 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