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


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)

Milwaukee Summer Project 2011

So I keep feeling like I need one last final blurb about Summer Project (‘cuz I can’t just leave you all hangin’ there!).  So here we go:

Sum up of the Summer

Oh!  Where to start!  This summer was AWESOME!  You may be asking, “What was the best part of your summer, Anna?”  You know, ‘cuz that’s what people ask.  My answer?  God.  He really revealed himself to me.  And, as he was revealing himself to me, he revealed parts of me that I needed to surrender to him, that we could have that much closer of a relationship.  He totally rocked my summer!

An overview of what we all did: Week One = Training.  Weeks Two-Seven = Ministry Sites (my team went to Liberty & Truth, New Beginnings, Tabernacle, and Hopewell).  Week Eight = Cleaning/Wrap-Up/End-of-Project Retreat.  Every weekend, we did an outreach, a social, and went church-hopping.  A typical week looked like this: Monday = Action Group; Tuesday = Weekly Meeting (where we could invite the public); Wednesday = Date Night with Jesus (what a few of the guys called “Man Time with Jesus”); Thursday = Training Night; Friday = Social or Outreach (the other is on the Saturday).  And during the day, we were either at jobs or ministry sites.  There were two ministry site teams, and mine went to: Liberty & Truth, New Beginnings, Tabernacle, and Hopewell.  I forget where all the other group went to, but I believe they went to: God’s Kidz in the Hood, Citybrook, New Beginnings, Liberty & Truth, Jesus Camp(?), Genesis.  Pretty sure.  We worked with a lot of kids and a lot of people in general.  It was exhausting, but fun!

We had a ton of spiritual conversations, did a ton of gospel presentations, had a ton of people ask Christ into their heart!  I don’t have exact numbers on everything, but I think there were 36 decisions all summer (in the 8 weeks we were there) to ask Christ into their heart!  Now that is what I call exciting.  (Doin’ a little kingdom welcoming dance!)

I made a ton of close friends, and have been staying in touch with many since the end (which was almost a week ago)!  Oh man, that is a scary thought.  A week ago?  The challenging part for pretty much all of us (everybody I’ve been talking to, anyway) is integrating back into the “real world.”  And then school starts, and we should be applying everything we’ve learned this summer on our campuses!  So that would be a big part of the prayer requests I send out to you today: for all of us who were on project, that we can apply and fit back in to society like we should be.  Other prayer requests include the seeds that were planted this summer, no matter what kind of soil they landed on (but let us hope that the seeds actually took root in good soil!).

Soooooooo.  I am really sad that the summer is over.  But at least we have a ton of pictures and even some videos to jog my not-so-great memory!  And God keeps doing his work, no matter where we are.  I know I have continued learning so much even after I left project!  And God is just awesome.  I am so thankful that I could go to Milwaukee for 8 weeks this summer and learn and grow and be used by God for his work!  It was SUCH an experience!  If you come and find me sometime, and ask me about it, you should tell me right away how much time you have.  ‘Cuz I could just keep talking and talking.  It’s okay if you just stop me sometime.  But please, wait until I finish the current sentence.  =)

I love all of you so much for supporting me throughout my summer!  I give thanks for YOU!  You are all incredibly awesome!

Ever smiling, Anna =)^2 (smiles squared)

Attrace is taking this picture, but it pretty much explains our group.=)

The Beginning of the Ending

Oh my gosh!  The last day at Hopewell was SUPER fun!  All afternoon, we played water games and took a ton of pictures.  Some of our games included “drip, drip, drop” (where everyone was dropped on), “hot potato,” and “water balloon war.”  At the end of the day, there were eight water balloons left.  Too many kids, so each of us got one.  We were kind of debating, because the day was supposed to be for the kids.  “They can cheer for us!” Zack said.  So, while he turned to get all the kids riled up, all of us girls (Chelsea, Jenny, Rachel, Meg, Jill, and I) got Zack with our water balloons.  Mwahaha.  I don’t know who would come up with such an idea or why multiple of us had the same one….  So Zack turned and threw his water balloon at the first person he saw, leaving a welt on Chelsea’s thigh because the water balloon didn’t break right away.  The kids were just laughing really hard at him.  Zack asked why we did that.  “It’s for the kids,” Jenny said.   “For-the-kids.”

Now that we’re done with ministry sites, we have been adding in a few social events.  Last night, we just had a good talk and thinking about stuff, all 17 of us.  And this afternoon, we ended up going to the lake after being invited by someone from church this morning.

I hate thinking that this is our last week together!  It just makes me sad that I’m going to have to say good-bye in a little less than a week!  But this week will be great, and I’m not gonna think about it.  Just this last week or so is when we’ve really started bonding like we haven’t all summer!  At least we bonded before we departed!

So I don’t really know what all of this week is going to look like, but I would just ask that you pray for everyone we talked to during our outreach on Saturday specifically.  I would also ask that you pray for us this last week together, and that when we leave this life-changing summer, we would be just that.  Changed for life.  Pray that we will all be able to apply what we learned here back at our campuses and wherever we may be in the future.

Smiling Squaredly, Anna =)^2

[Title of Post]

Carrying one another’s burdens?  Lifting each other up when we are down?  Laying one’s life down for his or her friend?  I knew what that meant, figuratively, metaphorically?  But I’d never experienced it like I did today.

When we got to Chicago, I had some energy (what I like to call my “morning high” by this time also mixed with some coffee- smiley face); it wasn’t HOT outside, and was still a little on the “cool side,” that being in the 80s, I guess.  But I had gotten kind of worn out a little over this last week, and my body doesn’t always recover as fast as I want it to.  So my walking was slower than everyone else’s.  I guess it would have been, either way, but it was slowing everyone down, having to make sure they didn’t leave me Ashley, and Jill, who were walking with me, behind.  AND THEN (said with intenseness) Ashley hosted me up on her back and gave me a piggy-back.  The beast, she was JOGGING with me on her back!  I was passed to Caitlin, but then given back to Ashley.  All the way until we finally found a Panera, I was carried.  So Ashey, Jill, and Bryan hung out with me at Panera for a few hours.  We mostly played cards—Rummy 500, more specifically.  I creamed Bryan for beating me a few days earlier.  And when we dealt in Jill and Ashley, I was in the lead on the score-keeping paper (despite what Bryan said how I would not have been in the lead if such-and-such were or weren’t counted) when we left.  Destination: Chicago-style pizza, where the rest of the group was.  All three of them took turns carrying me via piggy-back or failed two-person carries or whatever.  I am so blessed!  They stayed back with me instead of walking to the park with h rest of the group, and they CARRIED ME, literally!  At the restaurant, it was quicker to divide into groups and get smaller tables than wait for a big one that would seat all 17 of us.  So, because the four of us got there at the same time, we ended up sitting at a table together

Me and my awesome friends who I spent the majority of the day with!

After dinner, we discussed and divided into groups based on when we wanted to head back.  I was going back with the earliest group, but Bryan, Ashley, and Zack walked us to the train station.  Zack took a turn at carrying me a distance before Ashley took me on her back.  God gave her energy boost, ‘cuz even after having carried me for even having carried me for so long throughout the day, she was walking pretty quickly.

I am so blessed, to have such willing friends who carried me when I was struggling to walk.  I guess they sort of carried this MS burden I’ve struggled with for so long.  They had my back—Ashley always making sure she hoisted up my left leg when I got on someone else’s back or hoisting me up when I was falling down (yes, even on someone else’s back).  Humor was present throughout the day, and I love my friends for the way they loved on me today—it was AWESOME!  Praise be to the Lord who blessed me with these friends so dear!

Week Five

Logs of the week, I find boring.  Sorry if they interested you, I don’t feel like writing that this week.


–          Three kids at Tabernacle accepted Christ into their hearts this week!  Pray for Raven, 6-year-old Milik, and other boy who’s name I don’t remember and their new faiths!

–          We built a fort.  Or I should say, some of the girls on our floor built a fort Wednesday night.  Four of them slept in it the first night, I have no idea how many the next night, then we had to take it down ‘cuz people were coming.

–          For our social on Friday, we went to a French festival.  I have me a new djembe, with calf-skin head and it’s both super pretty and sounds amazing.  Playing it at Tuesday night’s weekly meeting!  SOOOO excited!

–          On Friday night, the majority of our group went to see the new Harry Potter movie.  However, the rest of us (like, 6 of us) went to a little park and hung out.  We got back like 20 minutes before the other group.  But we had tons o’fun.  =)

What God has been doing:

–          Well, he worked in the hearts of three kids at Tabernacle this week!  And he was working through us to get through to those and the rest of the kids! Praise Jesus!

–          Grr.  I was convicted of the iceberg sin of control in my life that manifests itself in many ways.  All I can do is pray that God will remove it eventually, and work at it, however long that takes.  I can trust that God will take care of it and focus on here and now.  Which is hard.  I ask for your prayers as well!

Prayer Requests:

–          Next week, we will be at Hopewell—pray for us and the people we will touch there!

–          Pray for God’s work to continue as it has, impacting each of us so much!  God is awesome.  Pretty much.

God is so good!  Thanks, everyone, for your prayers!  And, if you have an idea other than these lists of sorts for an update, let me know.

Smiling, Always, Anna =)

Picture Blog

So, some of these pics may be a little boring, but hope it answers some of the questions I’ve been getting about living quarters, etc?  And it shows some of who I’ve been talking about and referring to.

Tonight was the human scavenger hunt at the Springbay Mall.  Fun!  And now, tomorrow, is my day off.  Done with orientation and training week!  Yay!

Still smiling, Anna 🙂