31 March 2009

One Thousand Gifts



“Every good and perfect gift is from above; coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17.


Oh my goodness, my heart is heavy this morning. I ache so much for little Stellan and his whole family. Please, I beg you, keep praying for this little guy.

I feel like that gives me even more reason to praise for the gifts that I have been given this week.

-We were able to do some yard clean-up before the storm on Saturday night. That was good because it was starting to drive me crazy.


-Every day, I'm hearing and seeing more varieties of birds in the area. That's a sure sign of spring.

-I am thankful for the power of prayer. Whether it's as I pray for someone or I sense that someone is praying for me, I know without a doubt that God answers prayer. In His way, in His time.

-Picking M up from track practice yesterday, I realized that I have now entered the "shuttle mom" stage of life. That means that my boy is growing up. I am thankful for the young man that he is and am excited to see what God is going to do in his life.

-C is easily distractable, and that isn't a quality that his teacher cares for so much. But I know that sometimes it is helpful to me. When he gets distracted, so do I sometimes and he can very easily help me forget my troubles and focus on my blessings.

-My brother is getting married tomorrow. While I am sad that I can't be there, I am excited to be able to welcome his wife and 4yo stepdaughter into our family. S is great, and Mom and Dad are very excited that D found someone to spend his life with.

-J is exactly who God intended for me. And I have always known that, but have been reminded of the fact in the last week or so. He's my exact opposite when it comes to almost everything; while that is uber frustrating at times, it does keep life interesting........hehehe.

That's what I have this morning. What are YOUR gifts that God has given you??



30 March 2009

We speak Your name.

This was our "theme song" for retreat last weekend. I meant to post this last week.

It is a powerful reminder that He is there as soon as we speak His name. Enjoy!



29 March 2009

Woohoo!

I *love* a good "underdog" win! Villanova, baby!



(3) Villanova 78, (1) Pittsburgh 76

27 March 2009

God looks at the heart.

7 But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

This was the passage that jumped off the page to me in my devotional time yesterday, so I thought that I'd share my initial thoughts with you.

Sometimes I am guilty of spending WAY too much time on my outward appearance. Especially if we are getting the opportunity to go somewhere without the boys. There's no way that I want someone to look at me and think "oh my goodness, she really needs to get it together."

At the same time, this passage is saying that you could spend all kinds of time primping and if your heart is full of selfishness or anger or sin, it doesn't matter what the outside looks like.

A sermon illustration that my Dad gave once has stuck with me all these years. Imagine the greatest steak dinner there ever was; fillet mignon, baked potato with butter AND sour cream, crisp green salad with your favorite dressing and hot, fresh dinner rolls. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.

But imagine if the waitstaff attempted to serve this glorious dinner to you on a dirty, smelly garbage can lid. Not so appetizing now, is it?

That's the same as if we spend money and hours on our outward appearance and neglect the condition of our hearts. Not to say that He doesn't think that we should look our best, just that it should be secondary to our relationship with Him.

I don't want to stand before my Lord and have Him say, "Ya know what? Your hair and makeup were always neat and your clothes were always the latest fashion, but what I really wanted was your heart."

26 March 2009

Words!

Before you read my newest post, just a reminder to *please* continue to pray for little Stellan. There are hundreds of prayer warriors in the gap for this little boy and his family and it's working! Keep praying!

*****************************************************************************

Do you love words? I do. I'd read the same book a hundred times before I would sit down to any "logic brained" mathematical equations. That's just the way I am. So this email from a friend last week really made me think. How clever of these people!



The Washington Post has also published the winning submissions to its
yearly contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings
for common words.

And the winners are:

1. Coffee, n. The person upon whom one coughs.

2. Flabbergasted, adj. Appalled by discovering how much weight one has
gained.

3. Abdicate, v. To give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

4. esplanade, v. To attempt an explanation while drunk.

5. Willy-nilly, adj. Impotent.

6. Negligent, adj. Absentmindedly answering the door when wearing only a
nightgown.

7. Lymph, v. To walk with a lisp.

8. Gargoyle, n. Olive-flavored mouthwash.

9. Flatulence, n. Emergency vehicle that picks up someone who has been
run over by a steamroller.

10. Balderdash, n. A rapidly receding hairline.

11. Testicle, n.. A humorous question on an exam.

12.. Rectitude, n. The formal, dignified bearing adopted by
proctologists.

13. Pokemon, n. A Rastafarian proctologist.

14. Oyster, n. A person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.

15. Frisbeetarianism , n. The belief that, after death, the soul flies
up onto the roof and gets stuck there.

16. Circumvent, n. An opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by
Jewish men.
*************************************************************************************
Maybe you have a favorite "word"...I'd love to hear it!

25 March 2009

Praying for Stellan


Will you join me in praying for Stellan? He's a sweet, small child of the King who urgently needs your prayers as he is having some serious medical issues right now.

To read the latest update directly from his mama, click here or you can also click on the Praying For Stellan button that is below my new posts.

Also, join me and my fellow blog friend at The Mommy Diaries in a prayer vigil for this sweet boy. Get there by clicking here.

The power of prayer is a God thing. Pray for wisdom for Stellan's doctors and also comfort for Stellan and his family.

His will be done!

23 March 2009

Still Feelin' Fine!

Retreat was so great! I have to say that every year is better and better.

We left Thursday night. It was so late in fact, that C was already in bed. And we didn't arrive at the hotel until after 11pm. No matter, after being put above the very active karaoke bar, it just gave us a chance to catch up with our pianist who attends a different church than we do. (Or in my case, did.)

After some room fiasco, we were able to have great sessions with our speaker, Linda Seaman. She and her husband were missionaries for the Church of the Nazarene in Martinique and West Africa. Now, her husband is the district superintendent of the Michigan district for the denomination.

We've had the privilege of hearing her at retreat four years ago. When she tells the story of her then 17 year old daughter Kendra's terrible accident and subsequent severe brain injury, there isn't any way for me to hold back the tears. It's a story that would give anyone chills. In 1991, Kendra is 17 years old and a freshman in college and is taking a ride with two friends of hers at night. Out of nowhere the car is hit by a what is described as a black monster truck without its lights on. Witnesses to the accident say that there were tire tracks from the truck on the roof of the car that the teens were in. The guy at the point of impact turned his body to shield Kendra and was killed instantly, but saved her life.

Linda describes the next several weeks for herself and her husband in great detail. Kendra spends two weeks in a coma and basically wakes up in the infant stages of life. But Linda and her husband are surrounded by church family who are praying for Kendra on a constant basis, and the Church of the Nazarene as a whole is praying as well. Just hearing the details of what God does to watch over Kendra at that time is heart-wrenching and truly a miracle.

This year, Linda did one better. On Saturday morning, we watched a DVD of some of the highlights of Kendra's time in rehab. Again, an amazing story in pictures of the power of our God and His decision to heal Kendra.

As if that wasn't good enough, just as the DVD ends, I catch a glimpse of a shadow at the door and then a woman comes through the door and I realize that it is Kendra herself. She walks up to the platform and stands at the podium and the whole place erupts. She then without much difficulty, told us the story of what God has been doing in her life since she was able to go home to Michigan.

The summer of the accident, Kendra was six hours short of being a college junior. And it took her four years to finish the last 2 years to her degree, but she graduated from a Nazarene university in 1997.

Since then, she has met and married a wonderful man with four small boys, gotten a drivers license and through the grace of our God, defied every odd that the doctors said that she couldn't.

She describes herself as a "miracle with a limp".

She is my hero.

19 March 2009

You don't have one? Get one!


A bottle of Zout stain remover, that is!


C had a bloody nose at school a couple of weeks back. Due to some miscommunication with his teacher, said shirt spent nearly three weeks looking like CSI: evidence. Last Thursday night I wrote a note to his teacher asking if she could help C find his shirt; he seemed to have no idea where it went.


Friday after school, I am informed that the shirt has been in the very front compartment of his backpack the. entire. time. Really? The entire time? We'd each checked his backpack on several occasions.


Oh, well. No matter. Said shirt is now home, and that's what matters. How to get the nearly 3 week old blood out, is the question.


The answer? Why Zout, of course! And I am SO not kidding. Lieterally, a few sprays to cover the stain, a little rub, a toss in the wash and voila- a clean shirt! I was so happy! And, yes, I know there is more to life than that, but it really was exciting!


**On that note, I'd love to hear your "back from the brink" stories on stains and any removal tips you have!**


One more thing. This is the last post for this week as I am headed out of town this evening and won't be back until Sunday evening. Annual Ladies Retreat for church in Eau Claire- can't wait!

17 March 2009

Attitude of Gratitude- One Thousand Gifts


“Every good and perfect gift is from above; coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17.

It's been a difficult last few days. On Friday, I found out that my friend C suffered a miscarriage. What do you say at a moment like that? I told her I was sorry and am here if she needs to talk. That's all my brain could muster. Fortunately for me, she and I have been friends long enough that she understands everything that I couldn't say.

And then an online friend's nephew passed away over the weekend. I had followed this little boy's story for almost two years, through his premature birth and the death of his twin brother to every big milestone that boy had reached. And for God to call him home just a few days short of his second birthday...right now it is frankly unfathomable to me.

But I trust that my Heavenly Father has a plan. I'm reminded again that there isn't a single thing happening to any of us that He does not see. That He loves each one of us with a love that we can't grasp and in that love, He sees the BIG picture. He wants what is best for each of us- not what *we* see as best, but what He sees. And we can trust Him to bring us through the good, the bad and the ugly.

Right now, I cling to that with everything I am.

16 March 2009

Two Little Boys



After a hardy rainstorm filled all the potholes in the streets and alleys, a young mother watched her two little boys playing in the puddles through her kitchen window. The older of the two, a five year old lad, grabbed his sibling by the back of his head and shoved his face into the water hole.

As the boy recovered and stood laughing and dripping, the mother ran to the yard in a panic. 'Why on earth did you do that to your little brother?!' she asked as she shook the older boy in anger. 'We were just playing 'church' mommy,' he said.

'I was just baptizing him.....in the name of the Father, the Son and in...the hole-he-goes. '

14 March 2009

Picture of the week

C, listening to my Ipod after dinner while wearing Poppa's hat.

13 March 2009

I want candy.

M has a big opportunity coming up next spring. The middle school band is taking a trip to Disney World over spring break of 2010.

In order for him to be able to go, he needs to raise over $600, so he has been participating in fund raisers that the instructor set up. The fundraiser right now....candy bars for $1.

Of course, Jon and I have to do our part, and we have each purchased (and eaten) several bars. And we have even given C permission to purchase a few.

Here's where the problem lies. We let C keep his candy bars in his room. He'd done well restraining himself from a random sugar attack until two evenings ago, when just before bed, I noticed that he had a brown smear on his mouth.

When I asked him how that happened, he tried to lie, thinking that it was his only option. After cautioning him that lying wasn't wise, he started to cry and fessed up. So I calmly ordered him to march upstairs and bring down whatever remains of the candy there were.

He comes down with the remaining quarter of the bar with a big bite out of it. *groan* He handed it to me and I handed it to Jon. True to form, it went straight into Jon's mouth.

You should have seen the look of dispair on C's face.

And since my opinion was that it wasn't enough, as further punishment for his crime, he was without dessert last night and will also have to obstain tonight.

Which is torture since I just baked brownies.

12 March 2009

Every little thing she does.


Yep, that's right. I finally joined '06 and got an ipod. A second generation, hot pink magical little device.

Why magical? Well, when properly charged and loaded with only the greatest music, there were things happening here that were only on the schedule to be done just prior to the second coming.

The first of what I hope is many examples....when we moved in here two months ago, all the boxes, once they became empty, went to the front porch. And that's where they stayed. And stayed. Oh, yeah, and stayed. Until yesterday. Suddenly, I had the energy of ten grinches PLUS two and after the better part of an hour, the porch was usable again. For what, no one is quite sure yet, but it doesn't matter.

What's next, you ask? Who knows. But the possibilities are nearly endless and it's exciting.

11 March 2009

Friends

I can't believe that I forgot to post this........

Back a couple of weeks ago, or maybe now it's three, Caleb's former classmates and teacher sent him letters wishing him a Happy Birthday. They were so cute! Here are a couple of my favorites.



From his former teacher:


My personal favorite, due to all the questions:


Big gifts on this boy's mind!


One that made me smile:


Of course, I had him reply with a letter of his own, but I forgot to get a picture of that. Duh.

09 March 2009

It's all in how you look at it.

After finding this over at The Mommy Diaries, I thought I'd give Caleb, who just turned 7, a chance to answer these questions. Let's just say that for a child who never shuts up, he was really stumped by most of these; with the possible exception of the answer to number 21. DO NOT PEEK!

Enjoy!

1. What is something mommy always says to you? that you love me

2. What makes mommy happy?me listening to you

3. What makes mommy sad? me not listening to you (are you sensing the pattern here?)

4. How does your mommy make you laugh? you make funny faces

5. What was your mommy like as a child? you behaved

6. How old is your mommy? I don’t know (Good job, kiddo!)

7. How tall is your mommy? 7 feet tall (hahahaha, I'm 5'2"!)

8. What is her favorite thing to do? watch tv (um, okay.)

9. What does your mommy do when you're not around? do dishes and laundry

10. If your mommy becomes famous, what will it be for? that you look nice

11. What is your mommy really good at? helping Daddy

12. What is your mommy not very good at? lifting weights (just because I can't bench as much as Daddy!)

13. What does your mommy do for a job? helping people find what they need (that *is* part of being a parent, so I give him that one!)

14.What is your mommy's favorite food? green beans

15.What makes your mommy proud of you? when I help you

16. If your mommy were a cartoon character, who would she be? barbie (again, laughable!)

17. What do you and your mommy do together? play memory

18. How are you and your mommy the same? we both have eyebrows

19. How are you and your mommy different? your eyes are green, mine are blue

20. How do you know your mommy loves you? hugs and kisses

21. What does your mommy like most about your daddy? he can reach high things. (so true!)

22. Where is your mommy's favorite place to go? the park

Go there, now!

There's a great giveaway happening at one of my favorite blogs, Scary Mommy! Cleaning products! Who doesn't love those? And the best part, they are eco-friendly.

Click here to enter- winner chosen March 22nd.

Good Luck!

06 March 2009

Nope, not gonna do it.

I love my husband's family, really I do. And I love that it takes us nearly two hours to get to most of them for a visit.

But the thing that I love most? My husband is such a sucker for his own bed that he will invent almost any excuse in the world to have to come home after a family gathering. This is a good thing.

My sister-in-law just graduated from nursing school. We are all very proud of her and her kids are throwing her a party tonight. While I look forward to the party, I look forward to the drive HOME afterward- even if it is almost two hours and will be quite late.

Jon has spent most of the week compiling his "reasons to come home" list and I have had the privilege of hearing all of the reasons at random.

The best one, in my opinion? First thing this morning, he says to me- "We can't stay tonight, we have our date tomorrow."

Whew!

05 March 2009

Something to think about



Do amazed crickets ever look to one another and proclaim "Jimminy Human!"?

04 March 2009

Twenty-four hours

Think about it. It’s a short amount of time if you’re talking about a visit with family or friends that you hardly see. It can be a long amount of time if you have to be anywhere you’d rather not. But either way, it can be a learning experience, can’t it? It’s all in how you look at it.

Our congregation has been called to a 40 day fast, which started yesterday, March 3. Not that our pastoral staff expects us to fast for the entire forty days, but to participate as much as we feel lead to stretch our faith, bring us to our knees and ultimately closer to God and His plan for our life and future as a church.

We’ve known that the fast was coming for a few weeks. And there was something about God’s voice speaking to me on Sunday that I couldn’t deny. I kept hearing “TV….TV.” Now, that can only mean one thing- I was being challenged to exchange some of the time that the television consumed in my life for more important things, such as studying the Word. Okay, I can agree to that.

But it didn’t really end there. See, my boys, the youngest especially, are addicted to cartoons. We try to keep a tight reign on that because we know that he would watch until his brain started to ooze out of his ears. And forget getting their attention during commercials- those are nearly as captivating as the shows themselves!

So, we as a family agreed to a fast from television. And before you think that we are crazy, let me just tell you that we already broke that last night- for Biggest Loser. That’s a show, albeit not “reality” that we all enjoy and so we agreed that we’d break the fast for BL but that would be all. Fortunately for me, it isn’t college football season.

I’ve discovered in the last 48 hours that I have the television on as much if not more for the background noise as anything. Jon’s suggestion for that was for me to turn on the radio. It isn’t the same. LOL But no TV has given me time in the Word and also time to read books that I always wanted to (I’m reading In the Grip of Grace by Max Lucado right now) and given me extra time to practice my praise and worship music for ladies retreat coming up.

And then we’re back to the 24 hour thing. I decided that personally, I would take a 24-hour fast from food from Monday supper to Tuesday supper for each of the six weeks of the fast. Doable, I thought, since I’m not a big breakfast person anyway and then I can still eat what I fix for family dinners.

I won’t lie….it was difficult. I started out strong, but my stomach was in very angry protest by 10 am yesterday. So I drank more water and juice- even hot chicken broth- and prayed. And as I did so, I started to feel like it was doable. Pastor told us to pray when our stomach starts to growl- let me tell you that yesterday afternoon was quite a prayer time for me. And it was amazing. I felt at peace about everything that had concerned me over the last several days and I was able to better identify with those in our country who are as hungry on a daily basis as I was yesterday.

And the best thing- from a mom’s perspective…Matthew expressed all on his own an interest in fasting. I had to talk him down to a breakfast fast; he had wanted to do like a 72-hour thing. I have given him the suggestion that if by next Tuesday, he feels he can do more than just breakfast, he’s encouraged to try and fast from lunch to lunch the next Tuesday. But since he’s still growing, I didn’t want him doing anything more than that- for now.

If you have any suggestions for next week’s fast for me, or any experiences of your own, I’d love to hear them.

Twenty four little hours…I look forward to seeing what a difference it makes for myself and for my family.

03 March 2009

Attitude of Gratitude- One Thousand Gifts


“Every good and perfect gift is from above; coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17.

I have been blessed with much, and challenged by a fellow blogger to share that with you. My hope is to dig a bit deeper into my blessings and maybe learn something about myself in the process. Maybe in this, you’ll be inspired to develop your list of 1000 gifts- let me know if you do!

1. My very existence past the age of 7 is a gift from God. I had a seizure at school and almost quit breathing twice on the way to the hospital. Mom says that she knew at that point (again!) that God had great things for me to do.

2. My voice. I was blessed with vocal talent. My husband, who does not sing, will tell you that. He doesn’t sing, but he tells me that he knows bad vocals when he hears them. Some American Idol auditions make him run screaming to the other room.

3. My mother taught me to love singing early on. She taught me enough piano so that I could learn to read music, so it makes it much easier to sing parts also. And I like singing second soprano and alto when I get the chance, just for the challenge sometimes.

4. It’s hard to see now that we’re in March, but the snow is a gift. I’ve heard that it will do its part to keep us from needing so much rain this summer.

5. My mother in law’s love of all things that grow is about to be a gift to me. She has big plans for my yard and flower boxes this spring and summer. I just hope that whatever she plants can be neglected to a point, because I tend to do that.

6. I love to read, and I think that Mom deserves some of the credit for this too. And I have been lucky enough in recent years to be able to borrow books from her that she has read that she thinks that I’d enjoy. It’s always fun to hear her say “Oh, I’ve got a book you might like to read.”

7. I saw a little bird in my backyard yesterday. While I don’t know what type it was (my mother-in-law is good for that too!) I do know that it wasn’t a robin or a crow. And that has to mean that Spring is coming, doesn’t it?

8. My brother celebrates his birthday today; he’s now a quarter of a century old. That seems impossible…but that’s just all in my head. While we didn’t have much if any relationship when he was growing up (I’m 9.5 yrs older….) I have been blessed with being able to have relationship with him now. That means a lot to me.

9. My relationship with Jon has been a blessing to me. While we have had our share of hard times and difficult moments, I am really fortunate to have him beside me on this journey. I look forward with great anticipation to what that will mean for our future.

10. Being the mother of sons is interesting. On one hand, I have no idea what I am doing and I am scared to death. On the other hand, I don’t worry so much as I do the best I can and leave the rest up to God. I sleep better that way.

02 March 2009

On the Menu Monday

This week.....Pasta e Fagioli with Sausage. It was really good! I asked for the votes at the table and all were "Make it again!". I had the leftover bowl (!) last night and while the pasta was past its prime at that point, it was still very good.


And now...the recipe.

Pasta e Fagioli with Sausage

1 T. olive oil
1.5 pounds sweet or hot bulk Italian sausage
1 large carrot, finely chopped
2 to 3 ribs celery, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 t. dried Italian seasoning blend
salt and pepper
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (trust me on this, you'll get plenty of salt later!)
one 15 oz. can cannellini beans
½ cup small pasta, such as ditalini (I used macaroni..it's what I had..worked fine)
grated parmesan cheese for serving

In soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Crumble the sausage and cook, stirring until browned. Add the carrot, celery, onion, garlic, bay leaf and dried seasoning; season with salt and pepper. (I used 1t. salt and ½ t. pepper.) Cook until vegetables are softened.

Add the chicken broth, beans and 2 cups water, cover the pot and bring soup to boil over high heat. Stir in the pasta, lower the heat and simmer to al dente. Discard the bay leaf.

Serve soup with a drizzle of olive oil and lots of cheese. Serve with crusty bread.
Enjoy!

Oh and it's giveaway time over at Meanest Mom. She's giving away some great stuff! Click here to see more.