AKA Chili

Tomato Soup with Hamburger, Sweet Potato and Beans
AKA Sue’s Chili

The soup Sue calls chili.

The soup Sue calls chili.

On Facebook, I announced my first soup – making in the new house: chili with diced sweet potato. When asked for the recipe I was undaunted even though I have never made any soup the same way twice.

What has me humbled as I start writing down the ingredients, however, is the realization the person recipe-asking is from Texas. Texas, where chili is king. Oh dear, I had better confess. This is a slightly sweet chili with beans. Maybe I should call it Tomato Soup with Hamburger, Sweet Potato and Beans.

  • 3 lbs ground beef, browned and drained
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, cubed
  • Although not in this batch, cubed celery root (celeriac) is a yummy addition

Simmered in

  • 3-4 cartons of rustic cut tomatoes in puree
  • ½ bottle ketchup (2 cups?) with an equal amount of water
  • small carton (1 cup) unsalted chicken stock
  • 1-2 TBS of Penzey’s Chili 3000 spice (I usually get more creative with the spice drawer—including cumin, cinnamon and chili powder—but last time I got too creative and didn’t love the result. Since the ingredients are high in sodium, I do not add additional salt.)

Add in

  • 2 large onions, minced fine in food processor
  • whole stalk of celery, diced fine
  • 1 small can diced green chilies
  • Usually add sweet peppers (green, orange or red) but didn’t this time
  • 4-5 peeled cloves of garlic, smashed (so you can fish out again)
  • Two large cans of red kidney beans, rinsed
  • Two small cans of reduced sodium black beans, rinsed

Since my soup pot was full, I added the beans to the containers, not the pot. I’ve been known to do the same with the browned hamburger.

Sue Edison-Swift
August 24, 2014

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New home

We're putting down roots in Watertown.We’re home owners again! This afternoon we closed on a sweet 14-year-old ranch in Watertown with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a two-car garage and gigantic basement. In the three years we’ve rented in Johnson Creek, Walter and Sally have joined the family. It will be very good, indeed, to have more room.

By planting ourselves in a house we’re saying “We’re here for the duration. This is our community.” It’s a leap of faith.

We’ll have two residences for awhile as we have work done on our new house.

Looking forward to your visits!









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God is a he (lowercase)

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” —John 3:16 NRSV

Why Not Capitalize the Godly He?*

Resist the urge to capitalize pronouns for God.  Illustration by Ann Rezny,  graphic designer at the Herron Studio.

Resist the urge to capitalize pronouns for God. Illustration by Ann Rezny, graphic designer at the Herron Studio.

1.       Because pronouns for God are not capitalized in the Bible or standard stylebooks like AP and the Chicago Manual. 

2.      Because pronouns for God are not as clear as names for God.

I once asked a group of about 50 colleagues, “When someone signs a letter, ‘In His Service,’ who are they talking about?” I was surprised to learn most thought this meant “In God’s Service,” not “In Christ’s Service.”

Using names for God instead of pronouns is especially important when writing something for reading aloud, for example, a devotion. Listeners cannot hear the capitalization or scan back to determine the subject of the sentence.

If it is necessary to capitalize gendered pronouns to make it clear the reference is God, rewrite.

3.      For some, capitalizing pronouns for God is a sign of piety and respect. For others, this seems as antiquated and stodgy as using thee and thou.

While readers are unlikely to notice lowercase pronouns for God, capitalized pronouns call attention to themselves. Thus, a capitalized He runs a greater risk of a negative reaction.

*  Many people, myself included, prefer not to limit God to gendered pronouns–he or she. Capitalizing pronouns for God emhasizes the limits of the English language and a too-small image of God. This post, however, is an appeal to the faithful for whom God is, and always will be, a he. It is a case for lowercase.

Sue Edison-Swift 

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Piggery in UgandaDaughter Annie, grandson Walter and granddaughter Sally stayed with us over the weekend. Sleeping on a cot in our bedroom, Walter (2.5 years) woke up sobbing at 2 a.m.

“The PIGGIES!” he wailed. “I’m scared of the piggies!”

“You’re having a nightmare,” I said, scooping him up. Baba turned on the battery-operated candle to illuminate the situation. “See, Walter? There are no piggies here.”

On our second trip to the rocking chair, Walter whispered, “I hate that piggy sound, Umma. Have you ever heard that sound?”

That’s when it dawned on me. Snoring sounds a lot like piggies.

Umma Sue, 3/17/2014

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For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.–Jeremiah 29:11

On Friday, I packed my office. It was my last day as Corporate Director of Marketing and Communications for Bethesda Lutheran Communities. On Monday, Feb. 10, 2014, I begin as Corporate Director of Faith Life Resources with the Bethesda Institute.

BiblesHymnalsAs I packed and labeled a box of Bibles, hymnals and other important books, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. Imagine the luck to have a career of positions where Bibles and hymnals have a prominent place on the office bookcase.

This newly created position is “responsible for growing the spiritual life initiatives and resources on the Bethesda Institute, a division of Bethesda Lutheran Communities.” I’ll serve as the principle organizer for the Summer Institute on Theology and Disability (June 16-20 in Dallas); develop and direct faith-and-disability research initiatives; and direct the planning and implementation of all religious resources and periodicals.

I’ve served as Interim Vice President of Marketing and Communications since Laura Reilly resigned in November. While I enjoyed the interim, I quickly discerned the permanent position was not for me, and did not apply. I was especially happy, then, when David Morstad, Bethesda Institute’s executive director, approached me with this opportunity.

“You’ve been preparing your whole life for this,” Nancy J. Stelling, the first editor of Lutheran Woman Today (now Gather magazine), will say whenever someone needs an encouraging push to do something new. In many ways, my years with LWT, and all that came after, prepare me for this new first-day. Forward!

Sue Edison-Swift
  Feb. 9, 2014

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Remembering Aunt Sally

Click here to read the remembrance Annie shared at Aunt Sally’s funeral.
Tender blessings, Sue

Aunt Sally and granddaughter Sally

Sally and Sally


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Amazing Sally

Almost five months old, Sally is finding her voice. Here she’s vocalizing while I’m humming Amazing Grace. Sally Bug, throughout your life, I hope you always confidently communicate. You have a beautiful voice. Love, Umma (1/18/2014)

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2013 Christmas Greetings


Falalalala 2013  

On August 22, baby Sally arrived,
falalalala, la-la-la-la.
On November 3, she was baptized,
falalalala, la-la-la-la.

On November 4, Annie’s gallbladder was removed, falalalala, la-la-la-la.
Thank goodness, her health is much improved, falalalala, la-la-ah-ah.

Walter, now two, is our pride and joy, falalalala, la-la-la-la.
He’s a smart and sweet little boy, falalalala, la-la-la-la.

Paul is Baba, loving grandfather, falalalala, la-la-la-la.
Read “Walter and Me” in December’s Gather,* falalalala, la-la-la-la.

Paul’s cough headache (real thing) is a tribulation, falalalala, la-la-la-la.
To top it off, he has atrial fibrillation, falalalala, la-la-la-la.

On January 8, Paul will have cardio ablation, falalalala, la-la-la- huh?
If it works, there will be jubilation, falalalala, la-la-la-la!

Pastor Annie tends Redeemer’s pack, falalalala, la-la-la-la.
Sean protects Sentry data from attack, falalalala, la-la-la-la.

Working from home, Paul continues at the ELCA, falalalala, la-la-la-la.
At Bethesda Lutheran Communities, Sue spends her day, falalalala, la-la-la-la.

Sue’s a temporary, interim VP, falalalala, la-la-la-la,
She loves our tiny Christmas tree, falalalala, la-la-lame rhyme.

A Democratic liberal in a land of Republicans, falalalala, la-la-ha-ha,
Makes it hard for Sue to live in Wisconsin, falalalala, la-la-la-la.

Before offense is taken on this or that side, falalalala, la-la-la-la,
Remember relationship can cross such divides, falalalala, la-la-la-la.

With no reason to complain, we sometimes do, falalalala, la-la-waa-waah.
We miss faraway dear ones; we miss you, falalalala, la-la-la-la.

Throughout the year, know that we care.
We send our love and hold you in prayer.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

*Find “Walter and Me,” the article Paul wrote for the December 2013 issue of
Gather magazine at http://bit.ly/walterandme.

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Christmas Bagel

Two-year-old Walter and I had fun making up a song about a fictitious Christmas treat.

Christmas Bagel was red and green.
It was delicious, the cutest thing you’ve ever seen.
We love Christmas Bagel.
Happy, happy, happy Christmas to you! Yay!

For Walter’s solo (“It’s my turn, Umma”), continue watching after baby Sally’s cameo. To see Walter’s mommy (Pastor Annie) at 4 years old making up a Christmas song, see the second embedded video. Find my devotion based on Annie’s Song of Community here.

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Service dish-washing

Recently, Paul and I took the opportunity to be kitchen crew for two nights at Camp Matz, Watertown, Wis., a ministry of Bethesda Lutheran Communities.

It was a week without the usual cadre of kitchen volunteers, so a call went out to Bethesda employees to come and help. We set up for dinner, served the meal, and did the dishes.

Paul did the first wash with the power sprayer. I staffed the wash, rinse and sanitize sinks and put the dishes in the dishwasher tray. My next-office colleague and her daughter loaded the tray in the industrial dishwasher and put the dishes away.

Spray. Wash. Rinse. Sanitize. Load. Unload. Repeat.

I began to reminisce about service dish-washing.

When I was around 13 years old, I helped my mom and other women do the dishes after a congregation dinner. Sometime later, mom came home with a gift for me. One of the women doing dishes that night gave me a cookbook for helping out. What an amazing, unexpected, grown-up affirmation. The raisin sauce I serve with ham is a lasting recipe from that cookbook.

During her two years of confirmation preparation, daughter Annie (now Pastor Annie) was expected to do service in the congregation and in the community. At that time, Sunday mornings often found the three of us in three different places in one church building. I decided we should all join the Altar Guild—Annie would earn abundant service points and the Edison-Swift family would spend more Sunday morning time together.

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