Monday, December 28, 2009

Leaving on a jet plane

This morning was a first for my family. We left our rural surroundings, drove to the big city, went to an airport and put our daughter on a plane. This probably seems like small potatoes for most people, but given the fact that neither my husband nor I had ever set foot in an airport before, let alone an airplane, this was a huge leap of faith for us.
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Our daughter and two friends are presently on a holiday mission trip with Global Expeditions. The three girls arrived at their destination safely, very excited for the week to come. Next week, I intend to turn this blog over to my daughter so that she can share her experiences (and hopefully pictures, too) here.
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As a side note, I need to tell a story that happened when she was about four years old. We were celebrating a family birthday party in our dining room. At some point when we were eating cake and ice cream together, she climbed halfway up the stairs in order to address us. "People!", she shouted, "I'm here to tell you about the GOOD NEWS!" She proceeded to give us a mini sermon telling us about the love of Jesus Christ.
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We should have known then that we would one day be putting her on a plane for this very purpose.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Kitchen Disasters - Christmas Edition

Every Christmas morning, I try to make something nice for breakfast. Something nice, that is, that doesn't require a lot of time to cook in the morning.
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Two years ago, I made a sausage strata. I don't care for eggs, but my family seemed to like it. Last year, we went traditional and had pancakes and bacon. This year, I wanted something easier - preferably sweet.
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My mother heard about a recipe for monkey bread that seemed easy enough. Frozen dinner rolls served as it's base and needed to be prepared the evening before so that it could thaw and rise overnight. I looked for such a recipe on the internet and was thrilled when I found one. The instructions called for one package of frozen dinner rolls - how simple!
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I assembled my monkey bread on Christmas eve before bed. Momentarily, I wondered exactly how many rolls the recipe called for. My package of dinner rolls seemed a bit large for my bundt pan. Shaking away the nagging voice of reason, I continued on my merry monkey bread making way.
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Christmas morning arrived, and after the gifts were unwrapped and marveled over, I set out to the kitchen to pre-heat the oven. My husband beat me to the counter and hesitantly asked if perhaps I had not read the recipe correctly. Admittedly, the bread DID puff a bit more over the edge of the pan than I would have liked, but I put it in the oven anyway and set the timer. What follows may well have made Christmas history in our house.
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This is what greeted me when I took a quick peak to check on breakfast's progress. Oh my!

The timer went off and it was time to survey the damages. By the way, that sound you hear is my bundt pan screaming for help.

Outside of the oven, it looks like some odd sea creature bent on taking over the world, one kitchen at a time.

Mercifully, I did use the jaws of life to free my poor misused bundt pan from it's yeasty captor. Somehow the monkey bread looked even worse at that point.

I was able to salvage the mess by trimming away the bottom part of the bread and mixing up a bit more "sticky" for the rolls. As it turns out, the package of dinner rolls called for in the recipe contained 12-14 rolls, not, as luck would have it, the 30 roll package that I used.
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I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Reality of the Nativity

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the circumstances in which our Lord and Savior came to this earth. Appropriate for the season, sure, but I have to admit that this year it has more to do with being the mother of a 13 year old daughter. As a child, I pictured Mary as a woman grown. As a teenager, she still seemed inexplicably older and wiser than I. This is the first year, I can honestly say that reality hit and hit hard. Mary was very likely the same age, or a bit older than my own daughter. Wow. It is so hard to imagine that one so young carried such a burden, and carried it with such trust in God. She heard the impossible and listened. She was asked the impossible and obeyed. She was given a task unimaginable and she saw it through with grace. She put her very life at stake - adultery was punishable by stoning.
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Every year, around this time, I love to read Two from Galilee. This year, I read A Lineage of Grace as well. Two from Galilee was a favorite of mine from the time I first read it when I was 12 years old. A Lineage of Grace is a compilation of a five series set written by Francine Rivers. The book covers five women in the lineage of Jesus Christ, with Mary, of course being the final story told. Both of these authors do an excellent job of reinforcing the fact that the events that unfolded in that stable were very real. Mary and Joseph were actual people, seeking to obey God, not knowing how their story would end. The journey from Nazareth was long and dusty. The city of Bethlehem was crowded and frenzied. Mary was young, pregnant and in labor. Joseph was in desperate need of shelter for his wife and coming son. The stable was dirty and smelly, far from an ideal place to give birth. I'm sure that their trust in God remained strong - but they were human, too. Do you think they wondered, "Where is God in this?" "This isn't what we thought would happen." If they did, can you imagine the joy they felt when the shepherds came with glorious confirmation that God was, indeed, working wonders and standing firm on His promises.
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Think about it. Won't you?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Snowed In

Last evening, our church hosted a Live Nativity- complete with goats, donkeys and sheep. It was such a wonderful experience. Guests were assisted in parking and were given flashlights and sheet music to carry with them as they made their way around the circuit with the assistance of our narrator. Together, each group listened to the story of Christ's birth, sang Christmas carols and watched portrayals of the crowd in Bethlehem, the innkeeper's house, the stable, angels appearing to the shepherds and finally, the wise men bearing gifts. The entire experience was just outstanding!
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A second showing was scheduled for this evening, but alas, a massive winter storm had other ideas. We awoke this morning to a world blanketed in a thick coating of white, beautiful, but requiring some changes in plan. There were big plans for today - Christmas baking, matinee movie for my husband and I, and the Live Nativity this evening. Well, since we don't make it to the movies very often, we did decide to go ahead and walk to the movie theater - and it looked like a few other people had the same idea. The walk was a bit slippery, but made us very thankful for our small town. Since the grocery store required a drive, and that did not seem to be a good idea, Christmas baking had to be limited to what I had ingredients for on hand (Molasses Crinkles, by the way).
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The snow is still falling and we are up to about 8 -9 inches so far. Hopefully, it lets up so we can go to church tomorrow morning!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I'd love to tell you these are outtakes . . .

After the choir and band concert last evening, we went over to a local coffee shop to get something to drink before going home. While we were waiting for our order, I thought I'd try to capture some photographs for posterity.
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If she ever becomes famous, she will make the paparazzi cry. I guarantee.
Unlike his sister, this one actually WANTED to be photographed. He just has a little trouble holding a pose and my camera has a slow shutter speed. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!
Someday their grandkids will get a good laugh, anyway.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas!

I've been busily crafting away this week - so many good ideas - so little time! I can't show them all, but here are a few of my recent projects.
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First of all, I love to visit Bakerella's website - she has so many great ideas! When I found these Cowboy Cookies on her blog, I just couldn't wait to make them.

And then, I discovered what just might be my favorite craft EVER! And I love to make stuff. Lots and lots of stuff. Freezer paper stencilling is just so cool! My pictures of the process didn't turn out very well, but you can find tutorials here, or here
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I'm really pleased with how this t-shirt turned out!

My photo didn't turn out for this, but the actual project did work out quite nicely. Puking Pastilles has a easy tutorial to make a reversible cape for your favorite superhero!
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There is now quite a stack of presents underneath our rather crooked, but absolutely adorable Christmas tree and I think now I will spend some time basking in it's multi-colored glow.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A "Wow" Book

Last weekend, I found myself looking for something to read (again). This is a chronic problem for me - I really am a book junkie. Sometimes, I'm just after a fluffy, entertaining read to pass some time, and others, I really want something satisfying that will make me think. This time I was looking for something stimulating, that I could spend some time thinking about after the read was over.
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A friend recommended (and lent) a book to me, The Debt: The Story of a Past Redeemed, by Angela Hunt. The story is fictional, but the message within it hit very close to home. The main character, Emma Rose, is the wife of a nationally recognized televangelist and together they have spent 20 years building a mega-ministry. All of their hard work is threatened when something from her past resurfaces and forces her to face the fact that she may not have things as together as she previously imagined. Through Emma Rose's eyes, we are encouraged to take a closer look at our own Christian walks and challenged to step out of our comfort zones. I felt my toes being stepped on a bit as I read, and that was a good thing!
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The Debt reminded me of a story I once heard a pastor read, and I was lucky enough to find it again on the internet:

Once upon a time, a group of people built a lighthouse to save people from the dangerous ocean. Everyone who joined the group knew their commitment was to go out and rescue people in peril. But, after a while, they decided there was no reason for all of them to risk their lives. Some of them should staff the lighthouse. After another passage of time, they decided they all should stay home and keep the light bright so people in danger could find their own way. After another while, the group was not quite sure they even wanted bedraggled people dripping all over the carpet, so they dimmed the light a little. And after another while, they decided they needed a new carpet and maybe an elevator. When the light went out, no one noticed. And after another while, someone quietly changed the sign outside from "Lighthouse" to "Clubhouse."
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Now, I really need to get some more Christmas stuff finished! More on that later!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Circle of Life

Couldn't resist The Lion King quote - it seemed appropriate! For those of you, who may be alarmed or upset at the picture, or the content of this post, I do apologize. I will add, though, that I, while I do not hunt, come from a very, very long line of avid hunters and deer hunting is deeply ingrained in my neck of the woods (no pun intended).
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This picture makes me so happy - for so many reasons. Years ago, my father visited the gun shop owned by one of our neighbors, purchased a rifle, and put it away for the day that his grandson would go hunting with him. When my son was three or four years old, he was given a book called, When Pappy Goes Hunting. It was his favorite picture book, and at one time he had parts of the story memorized. He anxiously awaited the time when he would go off into the woods with his grandfather to go hunting. This was his year. This summer he prepared by taking his hunter safety course, even though as a mentored hunter he didn't need to take it until next year, but he wanted to be a prepared as possible. By the time he left for the camp on Sunday, he had talked of little else for many days. Monday afternoon, I received a call from an extremely excited young man and an equally excited and PROUD grandfather!
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Plans have been made for jerky and meat will be going into the freezer soon, but this picture will be cherished for years and years to come.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Marriage Monday


This month's Marriage Monday Theme is "He Speaks: A Revealing Interview With My Husband." So here goes:

Q. What is your favorite holiday and why?
A. Christmas. I've always liked Christmas, it's always been a special holiday with lots of family time. My favorite quote happens to be about Christmas, "One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas Day, don't clean it up too quickly." Andy Rooney

Q. What is your favorite Christmas memory?
A. I don't know, I've had so many of them. Most recently, I really enjoyed going shopping on Black Friday with our daughter (note - they got up at 3:30 a.m. to go to Wal-mart). But growing up, I loved our special Christmas eve tradition of visiting with my Aunt Delores and my grandmother over pizza.

Q. What would your ideal Christmas look like?
A. I would love to have an old fashioned Christmas, kind of like the meals and parlor games they had in A Christmas Carol, or a special family Christmas at a cabin in the woods. Snow would be optional, but family and fun would be the most important.

Q. I know you enjoy shopping for gifts, who do you most enjoy buying for and why?
A. The kids, because I get to play with some of the stuff they get. Just kidding. I have so much fun watching them open their gifts on Christmas morning.

Q. What are your favorite ways to keep the true meaning of Christmas at the center of the season?
A. We have always made sure that the kids have known that Christ's birth is the real reason we celebrate Christmas. In addition to participating in our church's Christmas activities, we light Advent candles, our Nativity set is the center piece of our decorating and I love reading the Christmas story from the book of Luke every Christmas eve.

Q. So, what are you going to get me for Christmas? I know the Black Friday shopping trip was supposed to be a covert operation, were you shopping for me?
A. Nice try.

For anyone who does not know my husband, let me fill you all in. My husband is Mr. Christmas. He starts listening to Christmas music on November 1 and is plotting how to decorate the house months ahead of time. Tree hunting is serious business, we spend a lot of time hiking around the tree farm looking for the perfect Christmas tree - and it has to be big! He has amassed quite a collection of nutcrackers, too. Christmas with him is an adventure!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Count Your Blessings

1. I am thankful for my husband, who is pure awesomeness in human form.

2. I am thankful for my daughter, who is growing up so quickly.

3. I am thankful for my son, who makes me laugh so often.

4. I am thankful for my parents, who gave me a loving home to grow up in.

5. I am thankful for my church, for its demonstration of Christian love.

6. I am thankful for my quirky pets, they keep us entertained.

7. I am thankful for my country, and the freedoms we too often take for granted.

8. I am thankful even for the everyday chores that I gripe about sometimes.

9. I am thankful for my house, it was an answer to prayer.

10. I am thankful for each and every person who reads my blog!

Most of all, I am thankful to God for providing everything on the list above and so much more!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Big Brave Dogs

Brace yourself, folks! Here is a terror filled tale of bedtime gone horribly wrong.
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It starts out innocently enough. Every evening, the routine is the same.
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Bedtime, pups!
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(glowing green laser eyes optional with every greyhound adoption!)
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Runner, why did you stop? Why are you trying to run back downstairs?
Midnite, why do you look so scared? Is there something up there?
Beware! What is lurking at the top of the steps is not for the faint of heart. Please move small children away from your monitor before scrolling down the page.
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***SCREAM***
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Two dogs, one weighing in at 53 pounds and the other weighing in at 70 pounds, terrified of the cat they have co-habitated with for three years. She lies in wait for them every night, reveling in their terror. Hey- its a hobby.
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They do eventually run the gauntlet and get to their bed, but it is a nightly challenge.

Monday, November 16, 2009

How to Shred a Paycheck

Ten years ago, I was the very tired mother of a darling, rambunctious one year old boy and a beautiful three year old spitfire. I was working full time in a chaotic, county funded mental health clinic. 'Nuff said.
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One bright sunny September day, all was right with the world. Birds were singing, the sky was clear, it was payday and my husband and I were going to be leaving for a child free weekend at a bed and breakfast - oh the joy! Alas, as soon as I stepped over the office threshold that day, everything went awry. The appointments ran late, patients were perturbed, the payroll did not come when expected, the computers revolted and calamity was waiting around every corner. The paychecks were finally delivered by late afternoon - much to everyone's relief. Especially mine. Soon, blessedly, it was the end of the day. Now, just to be clear, part of my job was to collect every bit of paper with any of our clients' personal information - however small- and shred it before leaving the office. It. Was. Mandatory. Absolutely. Mandatory. So, I scurried frantically, gathering up anything I could find for the daily shredding. Mission accomplished, I went back to my desk to straighten it up. My pay check was not on my desk where I had left it. I looked under the desk. I looked under the calendar on my desk. I looked in my trash can. I looked in my purse. I looked under my keyboard. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. When it finally dawned on me what might have happened - I thought I might be sick. Sure enough, rummaging through the paper strips in the shredder revealed some short pink strips and tell-tale clear plastic from the window on the envelope. I sat with them in my hands and cried. I felt so very stupid. I did call the payroll office and pled my case. Once the HR representative stopped laughing, she came up with a solution to replace my check. It seemed downright tragic at the time, but laughable now.
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That weekend away turned out to be wonderful, even with it's less than fun beginning! I resolved to be more careful in the future - a resolution I've broken many times in the past decade (as recently as last evening, as a matter of fact).
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(I accidentally wore my shirt inside out and backwards to youth group last evening. But it was under a cardigan - if that makes it any better)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Of Ax Heads and Work Stress

I try to leave work completely out of this blog. I prefer to make this a place of faith, family and laughter - a sanctuary, if you will. But realistically, I spend 40 hours a week there, and it is bound to creep in here and there. Sometimes the stress becomes overwhelming and clings to me no matter where I go or who I am with.
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So, I wanted to share an account from the Bible, that has meant a lot to me over the past several weeks. I first heard this story as a young teenager, and I have to admit, I didn't see what the big deal was at the time.
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2 Kings 6
1 And the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, “See now, the place where we dwell with you is too small for us.
2 Please, let us go to the Jordan, and let every man take a beam from there, and let us make there a place where we may dwell.”
So he answered, “Go.”
3 Then one said, “Please consent to go with your servants.”
And he answered, “I will go.”
4 So he went with them. And when they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees.
5 But as one was cutting down a tree, the iron ax head fell into the water; and he cried out and said, “Alas, master! For it was borrowed.”
6 So the man of God said, “Where did it fall?” And he showed him the place. So he cut off a stick, and threw it in there; and he made the iron float.
7 Therefore he said, “Pick it up for yourself.” So he reached out his hand and took it.
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Here, we have some men, working at a menial task - pretty much every day stuff. They needed to expand their living quarters, and with Elisha's blessing they set out to cut down some trees. Everything was fine until an ax head fell into the water - and sunk along with the heart of the man who borrowed it. We hear him cry, "Alas, master! For it was borrowed." How many times have you felt just like that? A deadline gets missed. The car gets into a fender bender. A check gets accidentally put through the shredder ( a story for another day, perhaps). Our hearts cry, "Nooooooooo. Please noooooooo." or "Please don't let this be happening." That awful feeling of panic sets in.
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What do we see happening next? Elisha scolding the man for being irresponsible? Elisha shrugging his shoulders and saying "Deal with it."? No. He asks, "Where did it fall?" He cared. God cared. God cared about that man's anguish over the lost ax head. He caused it to float so that it could be retrieved easily. Problem solved. God cares about us when the deadline gets missed, the car gets a dent and when we do something careless like shred our paycheck. We have a great big God, big enough to care about the minute details of our lives.
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And aren't we lucky that He does?


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Fall Photos






To give credit where credit is due, all of these photographs were taken by my 13 year old daughter, as was the one that appears behind the title of my blog.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Lock-In Time (and Links, too)

Ever wonder why kids think sleep deprivation is fun? If you suggest staying up until 2 a.m. to the average adult, the response is probably going to be phrased in whimpers and whining. Make the same suggestion to a room full of pre-teens and teenagers and the enthusiasm will be deafening - so get ready, get set, get some sleep - its lock-in time!
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This weekend was our youth group's girls' lock-in, and this year we invited moms, too. So much fun! Friday evening kicked off with games and a tea party, followed by devotional time and t-shirt design. Karaoke was a blast, and I'm sure everyone can see who my daughter inherited her musical gifts from. And it was most assuredly not me. Hey, the Bible says we should make a joyful noise, not necessarily a melodic one. Our devotional time was based on the book Lies Young Women Believe, and we so enjoyed our precious time with each other as we studied the word.
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The evening finished out with a viewing of One Night With The King, which is a terrific telling of the story of Esther. I definitely recommend picking this one up if you haven't seen it yet - it is well worth it!
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We did sleep a little.
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Just a bit.
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And when it was over, I went home and took a nap.
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But it was so, so, so worth it. I am truly blessed to get to spend time with such awesome kids!

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Love Letter to Scott

1st Monday Every Month at Chrysalis
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Dear Scott,

When I first met you, I knew we would be married one day. I loved your curly blond hair and your big blue eyes. I especially loved the fact that you shared your scissors with me during craft time. Granted, it was kindergarten, but you were a gentleman through and through even then. We spent so many happy hours together playing on the playground, riding the bus and going to each others' houses that the teacher had to separate us so that we would pay attention (and not kiss and hug). You were my constant friend. I was so sad when we were separated in middle school. I missed you. When high school came and we were able to spend time together again, I rejoiced that we were able to pick up our friendship just as if it had never been interrupted. How many times did we laugh until we cried around the lunch table or on the long bus ride home? How many times did we commiserate about tests, teen angst and teachers? Posing for pictures with you at graduation was so bittersweet. I thought that was the end. A new beginning, but the end of our friendship as I knew it. Good thing for me that God's planning is so much better than my own.
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One conversation changed everything for me. When that friend spilled the beans that I liked you, I don't think she ever had a clue about the chain of events she set into motion. First one date, then ten, each one better than the last. Before we knew it, we were married. It wasn't always easy. It wasn't always fun. But you were there and that was enough. I will never, ever, ever forget you holding our daughter in your arms for the longest time, even while the nurse was waiting to take her to the nursery, talking to her, telling her over and over again that you were her daddy and that you loved her. You then took the time to write me the most beautiful thank you card ever. When our son was born, you did it all over again.
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I love you so much, both the man you've become and the friend you've remained. Thank you for your loving and giving nature, your patience (with me, especially) and your wonderful sense of humor. Thank you for still being able make me laugh until I can't breath. I love you!

Love,

April

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Festivals and Fall

It is my absolute favorite time of the year! Fall!
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I took these pictures a few weeks ago, and I've been remiss in forgetting to post them. Hartslog Day is an annual festival held in October (something about a man named Hart, owning a log - I don't know exactly). What I do know is that it is pretty much everything a fun fall festival (alliteration is a gift, folks) should be.
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Here is the street scene at 7:30 in the morning. We beat the crowds. We found a parking space. We hit the ground shopping. Kind of like Veni, Vidi, Vici but lots of women with big purses and tote bags instead of Roman soldiers with swords.

It wouldn't be Hartlog Day without a stop at the traditional pumpkin totem pole, created by students at the local elementary school.
I think this one was my favorite. Moooooo. Or is it a dalmatian? I love the face whatever it is.

Or maybe the scuba diver? With a strawberry on his head? Laying a Steelers egg?
Now, time for the parade. With a marching band, fire princesses, classic cars, boy scouts and . . .
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Shriners. I love the costumes. Especially the shoes.
After some serious socializing, shopping and Shriners (again with the alliteration), it was time to wander through the food vendors. The smells, oh the smells.
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This was my selection. Hot sausage with peppers and onions. It was sooooo good. It was also 9:30 in the morning. Sausage is a breakfast food, right?
This was my mom and my daughter's choice. I had a few bites, too. Funnel cake is a fair and festival staple.
Happy Fall!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mountains and Valleys

The mountain and valley analogy is used often in the Christian walk. I've come to believe there is a very real reason for that, just because it is so very apt. I wonder who first came up with it.
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I live in a mountain and valley landscape. Ridges run parallel to one another, with broad valleys coming to narrow ends between them. Some mountains have narrow grades, subtly taking you up and up. More often though, they spring up, wall-like from the ground, creating a sharp contrast in the terrain.
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Spiritual mountain tops seem to be where we want to be as Christians. Time spent on the peak is time spent in tune with God, doing His will and getting ever so small glimpses into His plan. The top feels great. The top is, well, the top.
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Spiritual valleys are not our goal. God sometimes seems farther away when we're there. We wonder what He is planning. We gaze at the mountain tops and yearn to go back. Sometimes we grow frustrated and try to climb up out of the valley under our own power. Worse, we resign ourselves to the valley as if we are being punished somehow.
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The mountain tops where I live have spectacular views. In some places, it seems like you can see God's creation spread before you for miles.
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The valleys have a lot to offer, though. Rich farmland support crops and livestock. Rain runs down from mountains to feed streams, creeks and rivers. Occasionally, fog envelops the lowland, blocking out the sun making it hard to see where you are going.
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The spiritual valleys have a lot in common with the real thing. Valleys in our faith are a place to rest and recharge. God will provide us with what we need as we journey through. We just need to remember to trust in Him as we navigate through the inevitable fog that rolls in, confusing us and making us believe that God is so very far away.
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I'm trying to reshape my thinking. Time spent in the spiritual valley is not wasted. It is not punishment. Valleys serve a purpose. Moses, Davis and Elijah all spent time high up on the mountain top as well as down in the valley.
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Just my thought for the day.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fanny Crosby - Christian Heritage

I'm quickly realizing that I'm running out of month, and I just couldn't forget about Fanny!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Truth in Labeling

Has anyone ever tried to tell you what you are? Ever feel labeled? I have, and I'm certain I'm in good company.
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Sometimes labels are for categorization. Like stay at home mother, working mother (and I mean working outside the home, ALL mothers are working mothers) or single mother. These labels describe, but don't really define. Wife, mother, daughter, grand-daughter, niece and sister are all descriptions I accept gladly.
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During my childhood and teenage years, labels were stuck on me that I hated, like fat, loser, stupid and ugly. Labels like those burn when applied and if you accept them, they are incredibly difficult to remove by yourself.
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Two of my high school teachers however, knew the secret to scraping those labels off. One was a substitute English teacher, only there for a short time. In the free time at the end of the class, party invitations were given out by one of the "popular" girls. Over half of the class received invitations, and obviously, I did not. As the bell rang, the teacher asked me to see her after class. After everyone was gone, she told me that I was a true lady and that she was impressed with how I carried myself. Me? In ripped jeans, t-shirt and old sneakers? A lady? Some of those hated labels fell off right there and then as I accepted a shiny new badge that proclaimed that I was a lady.
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The second teacher was my high school French teacher. She told me I was beautiful when I felt so far from it. She was generous with her encouragement and her compliments.
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I doubt these two ladies even remember these incidents, but I do! And I am determined to do for others what they did for me. Will you join me? There are a lot of mis-labeled people out there!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Germaphobia. It's not just a hobby anymore!

Last week, my son got spectacularly sick. High fever, vomiting, headache, general misery, he had all of the bases covered. The illness went on for four days, while I worried myself silly. Thus the Faith vs. Worry post. I was so thankful when he felt better and went back to school on Friday, and spent the weekend feeling great. Yesterday, in the afternoon, I got a call from the school notifying me that he was sick - again. As I type this, he is still sick, just as sick as he was last week. And I am again worrying myself silly. Why is that?
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Apart from doing my part to give the hand sanitizer companies the best financial year ever, I've got to admit I'm having a really hard time with this. I spent the weekend breathing a sigh of relief that no one else in the family had gotten sick and had hoped that we were in the clear. Reality hit with a vengeance when the second wave took hold.
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I'll try to get back here soon!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Stepping Heavenward

I just finished the book Stepping Heavenward, and I can well imagine picking it up again and re-reading it. It is definitely a keeper. This book was written in 1869 by Elizabeth Prentiss, who must have been an absolute giant in faith.
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The story is told through the journal of Katy Mortimer, beginning on the occasion of her sixteenth birthday. Teenage Katy tells us of her exasperation with her mother, frustration with her friends and confusion with religion. Some bumps on the road of life lead her to her family pastor, who assures her of Christ's love and sets her feet on a quest to grow closer to God. Throughout the book, Katy often laments that the path to righteousness is uphill and it is so easy to lose you footing and slide back down. I cannot tell you how much that description hit home with me.
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On the whole, I would have to say that while the book is not an easy read, it is not a hard one either. The writing is conversational, maybe a bit old-timey, but not so much as other books from that time period. For instance, much as I love Jane Austen, I struggle with some of her wording and miss out on some of the subtle humor in her books. Ditto for Louisa May Alcott. This book was different. Even though it was written in a completely different time period, a time that we tend to think life was simpler, many of her struggles are the same ones we deal with today. I most highly recommend this book!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

This Time Its Personal

The title of this post is definitely meant to be tongue-in-cheek.
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First thing this morning, I came upon this blog post at Stuff Christians Like
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Then, even though I felt convicted by what I read before going to work, I allowed myself to fall into the same pervasive attitude problem I've been struggling with for over a week now. Thoroughly disgusted with myself, I took my lunch break at a local cafe with a good book for company. Stepping Heavenward is a work of fiction, loosely based on the life of the author. It is a story told in journal format following a girl into womanhood as she strives to live a more Godly life. Hmmmm. I picked it up, assuming it would be an edifying read of perfect people living perfect lives, enjoyable, but not real. This is most definitely not the case. The heroine, Katy, is far from perfect. She is confused about her feelings about God, confused about her relationship with her mother and confused about life in general. But gradually, she learns to seek Him. I'm not even halfway through the book, and there have already been several "Wow" moments, the kind that send shivers down your spine because it hit you where you live. The clincher - this book was written in 1869. Amazing.
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Today, whether I knew it at the time or not, God chose the reading list. And I am so glad!
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I'll finish my "review" of Stepping Heavenward once I finish the book. The Screwtape Letters is in the mail as well, so that one may very well follow. This one mentioned on Chrysalis sounds good as well. I'm looking for more reading material for the winter season, so please leave suggestions for me in the comments.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Faith vs. Worry

Faith and Worry are like Fire and Water.
A lot of Worry can overwhelm your Faith,
just like a lot of Water can put out your Fire.
Enough Faith, though, can eliminate the Worry,
like a strong Fire can evaporate the Water.
It is just as difficult for Fire and Water to coexist
as it is Faith and Worry.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Hymn History - It Is Well With My Soul

It is Well With My Soul by Horatio Spafford
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Chorus:
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part, but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But Lord, 'tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh trump of the angel! Oh voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Horatio Spafford was the man who had everything. He was a prominent Chicago attorney who was active in real estate as well. He had wealth, a beautiful wife named Anna, five lovely children and a deep faith in God. However, their blissful life was to be short-lived.
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In 1870, the couple lost their only son to scarlet fever at the age of four. The devastating Great Chicago Fire of 1871 wiped out the majority of the Spafford's real estate investments and greatly injured the family's finances. Determined, they continued their charitable work - much needed in a city with 90,000 people made homeless. They were simply grateful that their home and their family had been spared in the fire.
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At the invitation of longtime friend and evangelist, Dwight L. Moody, the family was invited to visit England, where Moody was setting off a revival. Anna was still reeling from the recent loss of her son and the exhaustion that followed the great fire. It was decided that the family would accept their friend's invitation and set sail for a holiday in Europe and then assist Moody in England. Horatio was detained by business at the last moment, but decided to send Anna and the girls, Annie, age 11; Maggie, age 9; Bessie, age 5 and Tanetta, age 2 off as planned, intending to join them in Europe soon. It was not to be.
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On November 22, 1873, their ship, the Ville du Havre collided with another ship and sunk, killing 226 people - including all four of the Spafford children. Only Anna survived. She very famously sent a telegram to her husband, "Saved Alone - What shall I do?". Horatio set out for Wales, where Anna was waiting. As the ship he was traveling on passed over the spot where the Ville du Havre went down, he began to write the now famous hymn, It is Well With My Soul.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Christian Heritage - Isaac Watts



I have to confess, I love hymns. I love choruses as well, but hymns will always have a very special place in my heart.

I found this short video fascinating in it's narrative about Isaac Watts, and I hope that you enjoy it too!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Marriage Monday

The year 2000 found my family living in a run-down, single-wide trailer. My job at the time had left me depressed and depleted, leaving little energy at the end of the day to spare for my husband and children, who were only one and three at the time. The stress had gotten so bad at work that my hair was falling out. In desperation, I turned in my two week notice and frantically began looking for other work. It was mid-January, the weather was frigid and money was in short supply. To say we were struggling would not be an exaggeration. My husband startled me awake one morning after he noticed that our home was so cold that we could see our breath. Panicked, we rushed to the children's' room to check on them. They were fine, if a bit confused as to why mom and dad were waking them up so abruptly. The furnace had shut off sometime during the night, and since our oil tank was perpetually low, we assumed that the oil had run out. While my husband called for an emergency delivery, I bundled my daughter and my son up in the car and headed for my parents' house nearby. More oil did not fix the problem. The furnace was irreparably broken and it was decided that the trailer was too old to warrant replacing it with a new one (we did not own the trailer). Within two hours, we were left without a place of our own to live and I sat crying on the floor in my mother's kitchen, in complete disbelief that this had happened to us.
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We moved temporarily to my parents' house, while we looked for a job for me, a place to live and some reassurance that God had not forgotten about us. I'm sure that, in anger, I lashed out at my husband. He, on the other hand, was regretting our decision for me to leave my job without having a new one in place. Both of us felt powerless and hopeless.
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And then God made it obvious that he had been there all along.
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You see, in talking with a co-worker while I was still employed, I had discussed the dismal condition of our home and how much I wished that we could make things better for our family. The co-worker had just moved into a new house and out of the house his family had rented. He very kindly wrote down the phone number of his former landlord for me and I promptly deposited it into the depths of my purse - TWO MONTHS BEFORE THE FURNACE DIED. During that time, I never once thought about that little scrap of paper. I spent hours scouring the newspaper, looking for apartments and jobs. Nothing worked out. Two apartment visits were disastrous. While looking for a pen, I came across that phone number and, even though we were positive we could not afford it, I called the landlord. Turns out, he was my father's former supervisor and was only too happy to show us the house. House! It was beautiful, and perfect for us. The kind landlord waived the security deposit and arranged it so we could move in immediately. We lived there for two years until we bought a home of our own.
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Oh, and the job? God had that covered, too. I received a call for an interview while we were in the midst of moving. I was hired on the spot and I've been there ever since.
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So sorry about the long post, but since the theme this month was about rough patches in marriage, this was what came to mind. As for suggestions to get through it - apply prayer directly to the problem. Repeat as needed!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Christian Heritage - Amy Carmichael

"You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving."
Amy Beatrice Carmichael

Amy Beatrice Carmichael was born to a North Ireland family living in a small village called Millisle in 1867. Her family was rather wealthy due to the many flour mills, which filled the small village. Amy lost her father when she was eighteen years old, and the family suffered financial troubles after his death and were forced to move to the city of Belfast. However, God touched Amy's life in her new home and she began serving in city missions. Inspired after hearing Hudson Taylor speak and in spite of suffering health problems due to neuralgia, she began her missionary life in earnest. In 1883, she set out for Japan with the support of the Keswick Convention.
Her initial introduction to missionary life was a disappointment. She was frustrated by the fact that the missionaries, in her opinion, were no different from other men and women of her acquaintance. "..we are here just what we are at home- not one bit better - and the devil is awfully busy . . There are missionary shipwrecks of once fair vessels." Her desire to live a pure life before God and to bring that light to the world separated her from her fellow missionaries in Japan. She left for Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) without notifying a single person from the Keswick Convention. Then, she returned home, shortly after arriving in Ceylon, to care for a sick family friend.
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She had such a heart for God, though, that she did not stay home for long. Less than a year after returning home, she returned to the mission field. She felt led to go to India. She found her life's work in serving the children, especially in her work with the temple children. Amy was instrumental in saving these children from becoming temple prostitutes. She went to such great lengths to save these children that she was even known to disguise herself as Indian - making her thankful that God had NOT answered a childhood prayer to change her eye color from brown to blue, her brown eyes made her disguise more believable - so that she could steal the children away and take them to safety. After twelve years of finding these children, she had one hundred thirty children in her care. She named her organization the Dohnavur Fellowship. The Dohnavur Fellowship was unique in the fact that everyone wore Indian dress and the children were given Indian names - unusual for missions of that time period. Amy Carmichael cared for the spiritual and physical needs of God's children and claimed, "...One cannot save and then pitchfork souls into Heaven . . . Souls are more or less securely fashioned to a body . . and as you cannot get souls out and deal with them separately, you have to take them both together."
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She lived the rest of her life in India, serving fifty-five years in the mission field without a furlough. Amy passed away in 1951 at Dohnavur at the age of eighty-three and was known to thousands as "Amma" or Mother.

Christian Heritage - Dwight L. Moody

"Faith makes all things possible . . . love makes all things easy.”


Dwight L. Moody

Dwight Lyman Moody (1837—1899) was born into a large family in rural Massachusetts. Dwight’s formal education ended in the fifth grade as he was a poor scholar, who could barely read or write. He left home at the age of 17, seeking employment in Boston, where he was unable to find a job. Eventually he was reluctantly hired by his uncle, a shoe merchant, on the condition that he attend church and Sunday school, where he accepted Christ. Despite his conversion and wish to dedicate his life to serving God, his application for church membership was denied. As to his wish to join the church, his teacher said, " I can truly say, and in saying it I magnify the infinite grace of God as bestowed upon him, that I have seen few persons whose minds were spiritually darker than was his when he came into my Sunday School class; and I think that the committee of the Mount Vernon Church seldom met an applicant for membership more unlikely ever to become a Christian of clear and decided views of Gospel truth, still less to fill any extended sphere of public usefulness." He made several attempts at participating in prayer meetings, and was advised to refrain from public speaking due to his poor grammar and uneducated manner.

So, a year later, he moved to Chicago where he hoped he would find success selling shoes. Instead, he began to hold Sunday school services in an abandoned saloon for Chicago’s poor and within a year he saw an average attendance of 650. His services became so well known that President Lincoln spoke at one of the Sunday school meetings in 1860. The Sunday school evolved into the Illinois Street Church and was pastored by Dwight Moody. The Great Chicago Fire destroyed his church, not to mention his home, but in the midst of the tragedy, he felt called to spread the word of God to the world and traveled to the United Kingdom in 1872, where a great revival was sparked. Upon his return to the United States two years later, he continued his work, preaching the message of salvation across the country. He founded Christian schools for children, a ministry training school for women and what is known today as the Moody Bible Institute.

(unofficial) Christian Heritage Month

When I was a child, I attended church in a large tent. Like a circus tent, only brown - and with folding chairs instead of bleachers. No hymnals, just a projector and a folding screen to put the words to the choruses on. When the weather was fair, we had Sunday school classes outside at a picnic table. It was definitely not a typical church experience. A church building was eventually built, but I think it is fair to say that I grew up feeling a lack of . . . . something.
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Last evening as I flipped through channels, I was thrilled to catch the last hour of one of my favorite movies, Bella. (An aside, if you have not seen this movie, I would encourage you to rent it. Such a sweet film.) It was announced that the movie was being played in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. My husband teased me about my favorite movies as he passed through the living room, which made me think about what it is that I like in a movie. I tried to root out the common themes in Bend it Like Beckham, Bella, Bride and Prejudice (just the first three that popped into my head). It is the sense of family and heritage that I love.
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Well, that led me to thinking about my own heritage - not genetic, just because I'm the same Irish/Scottish/German Heinz 57 Variety as just about everyone else around here. Interesting, yes, but not enough of any one thing to lay claim to a heritage month or special holiday all my own. However, I do feel a strong sense of my Christian heritage, which is exactly what I felt was lacking during my growing up years. We are all adopted into the family of God, therefore I can claim as family other followers of Christ.
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So, my thought is, even though, there very well might actually be a Christian Heritage Month, here on my blog this month, I will be featuring stories about important historical figures in church history. If you have any suggestions, I'd be glad to consider them.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Superwoman

Superwoman is dead. She was found crushed beneath a mountain of laundry that swept over her like an avalanche. It was no surprise, really, her reflexes were understandably dulled from dutifully serving four hours in football field food booth, staying up past midnight to bake for the next day's tailgate party, getting thoroughly chilled at the morning soccer game, becoming thoroughly soaked at the afternoon band competition and then finishing out the day serving a dinner for the youth group (while looking like a drowned rat). The next day went no better for her as she rushed around until she finally met her doom in the laundry pile. Authorities are unsure whether her demise was caused by the weight of the behemoth that overtook her, or if she asphyxiated from the fumes rising from the tube socks from deep within the mass. No matter what the cause, we mourn our loss, even if Superwoman was, admittedly, delusional.
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Yes, I know, you get it already. I'm not Superwoman, but wow - did I ever try. This weekend left me exhausted and wrung out. By bedtime on Sunday, I was demanding a weekend do-over - in vain, I might add. The best thing about weekends, though, is that in five days there will be another one, a better and brighter one, I hope!
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But, please, if you will, let's have a moment of silence for Superwoman.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bible Study Accomplished!

This evening was the last night of the Bible study that began back in July. I cannot believe how quickly the time passed. What sweet fellowship and learning we experienced together. I am so thankful to all that God has done!
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We studied from the book Slightly Bad Girls of the Bible, in which we read about the lives of Sarai/Sarah, Hagar, Rebekah, Leah and Rachel. After reading the book through before beginning the Bible study, I realized that those flannelgraph lessons from my childhood were woefully lacking some important details from the Bible accounts. Yes, I do realize that some of the information was left out as it was not suitable for impressionable listeners.
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Together, we learned that these women had issues with control, manipulation, arrogance, envy and competiveness. Too familiar. Yet, despite these obvious flaws, God loved these women and used them, just as He will us as well. I would highly recommend reading this book and if at all possible, organize a study of your own.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Blessed

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV
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There is simply nothing quite as awe inspiring as seeing a favorite Bible verse leap up off the pages and spring to life before your eyes.
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My daughter is planning to travel on a short mission trip over holiday break this year. I honestly admit that the thought of the cost occupied my thoughts more than I should have let it. My heart knows to trust in God, but sometimes my head forgets.
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A very kind group of people from our church planned and executed a breakfast fundraiser for my girl and the two girls she will be accompanying. Not only did my daughter receive funds for her trip, our whole family walked away feeling very encouraged. What a blessing our church family is!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

New Addition #3

In a moment nearly as monumental as Pa Ingalls presenting the brand new cookstove to Ma Ingalls, my darling husband and father brought home our much anticipated new stove. I was so excited to make supper for my family this evening. In honor of the momentous occasion, I tried this new recipe from The Pioneer Woman - http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2009/09/delicious-hominy-casserole/
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The kids were wary of the strange new stuff. I'm so glad they are past the dramatic reactions to new food, though. They did try it and while they did not rave over it, they did eat it. It was the first time my husband and I had eaten hominy. It was different, but very, very good! Perfect for a cool-ish, drizzly evening at home.
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I am so glad to have a working oven again!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Of Tubas and Odd Greyhound Diseases

This week brought two new additions to our household, a tuba and Runner's SLO diagnosis. Both unexpected, but only one unwelcome.
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As I've said earlier, both of my children are now attending middle school now. My son had taken up the saxophone a few years ago, but gave it up as it was not a good fit for him. He has told us many times over the past year that he had no intention of rejoining band. We were supportive, but told him if he ever changed his mind, that would be okay. To our surprise, he DID rejoin band and is now playing the instrument of his dreams - the tuba. Whodathunk? (translation - who would have ever thought of that?) The "home" tuba, the one that he practices on, has become a semi-permanent fixture in our dining room. I'm already thinking of ways to decorate it for Christmas. In all seriousness, though, it is so rewarding to see your children participate in activities they love.
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The unwelcome addition of the week was a final diagnosis for Runner. She has been losing toenails for months now, slowly at first, but now happening with alarming regularity. SLO is an autoimmune disorder typically limited to greyhounds, which causes their immune systems to reject their toenails of all things. I guess I'm glad that it targets the toenail and not some vital organ, but it is very painful for her and heart wrenching to watch her hold her paw out for me to wrap up after another one falls out. It is treatable, but not curable. So, now we are pumping her full of fish oil supplements and vitamin E trying to help her feel better. I am also on the market for shoes. For my dog. Yep. I said it. Shoes for my dog. Pictures to follow as soon as I find them.
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Another addition to the household will be arriving tomorrow, so that makes three! Stay tuned! (Yes, I DO know how cheesy that sounds!)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Summer Reading List - Scorecard!

Earlier this summer, I posted a list of books that I intended to read. Today, I thought I'd fess up to how I did and write a little review about a few of the books. The original post is below, with my additions in bold:

Reading is my favorite thing to do, no matter what the season. But, because I always looked forward to the summer reading lists handed out this time of year during my school years, here is my 2009 summer reading list:

That Certain Spark by Cathy Marie Hake

This one won't be released until later this summer, but I cannot wait for it to become available. Set in the same community as Forevermore, Fancy Pants and Whirlwind, these books tell such sweet, wholesome, romantic stories and the leading ladies are delightfully quirky and real!




*I did read That Certain Spark and enjoyed it very much. It was like visiting old friends, first introduced in Fancy Pants, Forevermore and Whirlwind. I will admit, though, that my favorite book of the series is Forevermore and my primary disappointment with That Certain Spark is that I did not hear enough about those characters to make me happy.

A Measure of Mercy by Lauraine Snelling

I became hooked on this series when I picked up the first in the Daughters of Blessing series while on vacation in Williamsburg, VA. Set in North Dakota, in a primarily Norwegian immigrant community at the turn of the century, these books paint beautiful word pictures of a simpler time, even if the characters lives are not always so simple.


*I confess I did not read this book - yet.

Fields of Grace by Kim Vogel Sawyer
This one just looks too good to pass up. I've read three or four other books by this author, and thoroughly enjoyed them. Waiting for Summer's Return has got to be one of the most touching historical romance books that I have read - reminiscent of Love Comes Softly.




*Ditto.

And, even though I am planning on reading a lot of fluffy, historical fiction - dessert reading, if you will. I'm going to eat - no - read something more nutritious, too.

Me, Myself & Lies by Jennifer Rothschild
The tagline of this book is "Cleaning out your thought closet". Basically this is a six week Bible study (which I found on http://www.livingproofministries.blogspot.com/ ). The focus in this book is to target the negative things that women say to themselves about themselves. I know I need to work on that.






*Okay, so I flat out misunderstood that this is a WORKBOOK. I do still plan on working my way through this book at a later date - once the Slightly Bad Girls of the Bible study is completed. Which, by the way, will be finished in two more weeks. More on that in a later post.

Bad Girls of the Bible by Liz Curtis Higgs
I was so impressed by Slightly Bad Girls of the Bible, I'm going to read this one too. Also, I accidentally ordered it in a lot on eBay along with some used copies of Slightly Bad Girls of the Bible (to be used in the Bible study this summer). Since I was going to read it anyway, it worked out well.


*Love, love, loved this book. Each chapter was excellent, but Rahab knocked my socks off. Liz Curtis Higgs has such a way of taking these women we have read about for years, in some cases, and fleshing them out until we go, "Wait, I think I know her." or "Wait, I think I AM her." Definitely recommend this one.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

They Should Make A T-Shirt

You know those t-shirts sold at amusement parks that say, "I survived the (insert name of roller coaster here)"? I think they should make one for parents that proclaims, "I survived the first week of school!"
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Sure, everyone knows the first week of school is hard on the kids. They go from complete freedom to a very structured environment overnight. They have to deal with new teachers, new classes, bus rides and sometimes new schools. It makes for a hectic week for parents too, though! Morning routines take well over a week to re-establish, meaning we have to roll out of bed and morph into a staff sergeant/cheerleader/nutritionist/events coordinator/fashion consultant/meteorologist. All before fully waking up, too. The evening of the first day comes, and with it, the dreaded back to school paperwork. I am of the mind that enlisting in the armed forces requires less paperwork than going back to school. It baffles me as to why, in the age of computers that we live in, does the school need my child's emergency information filled out in triplicate? There are also books to cover, scientific calculators to buy and lunch bags to find. By the weekend, my husband and I are usually as giddy at the thought of Saturday as the kids are.
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Today, as they head out for the second week of school, I can't help but think that our routine is well on its way to becoming smoother. I still want a t-shirt, though!

Monday, August 31, 2009

How Did We Get Here So Quickly?

1st Monday Every Month at Chrysalis
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Today, my children set off for their first day of school. I tried not to flinch when I realized that next year, my daughter sets off for high school - ouch! How, exactly, did that happen so quickly? I'm stumped.
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Over the past two years, we have found ourselves talking about subjects that I felt ill prepared for. All of those baby books I read (seems like just yesterday, too), did not prepare me on how to discuss intimacy, relationships and marriage with an impressionable pre-teen/teenager. I still read about parenting - books, articles, websites- I just feel less sure about what I'm doing. Throughout infancy and toddlerhood, life was kind of like a checklist. Rolling over - check. Sitting up - check. Walking - check. Talking - check. See what I mean? Teenagers throw curveballs that leave parents asking, "What just happened here?" One of those curveballs came for us when our daughter asked us to set a "dating age" for her. Not that she wanted to date right now, she just wanted to know what we were thinking. Quite honestly, we were thinking sometime between the ages of 25-30, but she didn't buy it. Had to try, I guess. Since she threw down the "d" word, my husband and I decided some heart to heart discussions were in order so that when she hits 25 and starts dating, she is ready (okay, maybe not 25. We're willing to discuss 21). The following list is some of the advice I've dispensed over the past couple of years:
  • Faith is Important - You can't fake faith. Marrying someone who does not share your faith is a difficult road to travel. When two people share a love of the Lord, it brings them closer together than they could ever be on their own.
  • No Fixer-Uppers - Do not take on a relationship with the mind set that you can "fix" him. What you see is what you get. No one wants to be a project. Make sure you are happy with the person as is.
  • Do Nothing - There should be nothing you need to do to be "good enough" for your spouse. They should love and accept you warts and all. Think of it as the reverse fixer-upper. Yes, you should want to the best you can be in any relationship - but no sentence that begins, "I would love you if _______" is going to end well. If you are not good enough for that person, they are never going to be good enough to deserve you.
  • Your Love is a Gift - and anyone in a relationship with you should treat it as such.
  • Marriage is for Better or Worse - enjoy the better and brace yourself for the worse. Checkbooks bounce. Appliances break. Cars crash. Injuries happen. If you know the hard times happen and work through them together, the good times are that much sweeter.

That's all I have for now. She is only 13, and I know we still have deep waters to wade through as far as relationship advice goes. Fortunately, God sees to it that we're not in it alone - parenting OR marriage.