Saturday, September 29, 2012

ode to Martha

I just saw the comment you left under me and Brett Brett and I.  Can I tell you something?  I love that you embrace my "Becky Homecky" side.  I love it that I can tell you creative ideas I've run across and we can talk about homemade this and homemade that and sewing and cooking and you are all in, sister.

Once upon a time long, long ago before the man was born, I was known, by my boss, as Martha.  As in Martha Stewart.  I am as the Mister would say, a "jack of all trades, master of none".  It's true, I'm capable of doing plenty but, cooking is where I feel I stand out most.  I'm more "Betty", as in Betty Crocker.  The kitchen's where I'm at home.  It's where I live to be more than any other place in the world.  I have outlets like sewing and crafts and such, but it's the kitchen that calls my name.  For me, it's warm and fuzzy there.

And so you, my friend are Martha.  You are so home decor, so sew, so crafty, and so Betty.  You are well rounded, friend. 

I love it that we embrace the homemade, do-it-yourself, handcrafted side of each other and that I don't feel like a total homely nerd when I'm with you.  No, that doesn't mean you're a homely nerd either.  Cuz you've also got style.  No, you're the coolest!

Thanks for being my totally crafty, uber-talented friend, Martha.  Can't wait to see you and your latest creations soon!  Hope you're enjoying the same exquisite moon we're seeing tonight!

Friday, September 28, 2012

the man turns 6

I went to wake up my sleeping babes this morning and realized in an instant that it was the man's birthday.  Yep, he turned SIX today!  For fun, I asked him if he felt older.  With a wrinkled forehead, he looked at me and replied, "No."  He's so serious like his father.  He told me he wanted to go back to Virginia today.  He knows his Nana's promised to take him shopping for his bday.  He couldn't pinpoint anything when asked what he wanted.  So, she assured him she'd take him on a little shopping trip.  Now, that's all that he thinks about.

I use the excuse that we're displaced for a lot of things.  This would be one.  We haven't planned anything big.  We don't have the room here to invite all of our friends and so, we're playing it by ear this weekend.  When asked what kind of cupcakes he wanted me to bring for his class today, he kindly explained that he didn't want cupcakes.  He wanted chocolate and vanilla pudding with Cool whip and crushed oreos and vanilla wafers.  So, per his request, I whipped everything up this morning and it all patiently waits in the fridge.

We've watched this little boy grow and become more and more independent.  He still sleeps in that exact same position.  He's a fierce competitor, self-proclaimed shy boy (but really, he's not), loves waffles and pancakes and anything breakfast-y.  He never tires of chicken sandwiches or chicken patties (uck!)  He's adventurous and wild.  He still screams like a little girl.  He's a hardcore wrestler.  He'd buy a Hot Wheels or Matchbox car every day if you let him.  Money burns holes in this boy's pockets!  He loves him some mama snuggles.  He tells his friends he's a break dancer.  No joke y'all.  He does have rhythm, that's for sure.  He quit sucking his thumb, only after we duck-taped it for weeks on end.  He reads like it's nobody's business.  He is always an accident waiting to happen.  He has more cuts and bruises than you've ever seen, although the knots on his head have been gone for quite some time now.  He loves to take pictures of random, a belt, a chair.  He rides his bike with wreckless abandon at high rates of speed and crashes regularly but, he always gets back on the horse.  He wants to be an airplane pilot and a train conductor when he grows up.  He loves his friends and shares easily with them.  He is sweet and always thanks God for the simple things..."thank you for our pillows so our heads don't have to lay flat and for our beds and a warm place to live."  This list could go on and on.

Simply put...He is special.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup

I do believe Million Dollar Casserole was a bust, for me at least.  Maybe 2 oz. of sauce makes a huge difference.  Maybe it's that we are meat eaters and there was none.  Oh well, the girls liked it.  So, it served its purpose.

Knowing it would be 66 degrees and breezy today, I planned ahead.  Crock pot Chicken Noodle Soup was in by 7 this morning.  Cross Country is a bit arctic on an already cool morning with blustery winds.  It's 1pm now and only 57 degrees!  Did you know that northern Wisconsin saw its first snow last night?!  Do you know that we're the state below Wisconsin?  I sooo wasn't prepared for this.  Back to the story...Upon arrival home, I opened the door and it smelled heavenly!  It tasted that good too.  This recipe is definitely a keeper!


Crock pot Chicken Noodle Soup

5 cups chicken broth - 5 chicken bouillon cubes + 5 cups water
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
1/2 cup carrots, finely chopped
pepper to taste - 1/2 - 1 tsp.
parsley to taste - three dashes or so + whatever else you like
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts - frozen
1 1/2 cups egg noodles

Whisk chicken broth & cream of chicken soup together just until combined.  Add onion, celery, carrots, pepper, and chicken.  Cook on high 5 hours.  Shred chicken using 2 forks.  Add egg noodles, continue cooking on high 30-45 min. or until noodles are done.

This recipe called for cooked chicken, but my thoughts...why cook the chicken when your crockpot is rollin'?  Why thaw it even?  It's a crock pot, it's like magic!  So good, so easy!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Million $ Casserole

We have company coming after school today.  Yes, we're hosting the fabulous four for "Speech Practice" (forensics/drama club) and dinner.  I've been using them as guinea pigs for my latest test recipes and they've been pretty honest.  I found this one for Million Dollar Casserole on Pinterest and so, tonight's its night to shine.  Luckily, this casserole has awesome companions garlic bread, broccoli and homemade applesauce.  Then, for dessert...banana pudding.  So either way, I can't go wrong.  (My edits/substitutions can be found in blue and I will return with a verdict.)

Million Dollar Casserole

1 lb. pasta (your choice), cooked - macaroni (on hand)
1/4 cup sour cream
4 oz. cream cheese
1 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. garlic salt - garlic powder & additional salt if needed
1 tsp. pepper
28 oz. jar spaghetti sauce (flavor = your choice) - 26 oz. & rinsed jar with an oz. or so of water
additional veggies (optional)
shredded cheese (your choice), enough to cover top - mozzarella

Put half of the cooked pasta in bottom of a 9x13in. baking dish. Combine sour cream, cream cheese, cottage cheese, onion, Parmesan cheese, garlic & pepper.  Spoon cheese mixture over noodles.  Pour remaining noodles over cheese mixture.  Pour spaghetti sauce over casserole.  Sprinkle any additional veggies on casserole & top with cheese.  Refrigerate overnight, then bake at 350 degrees for 45 min.

Banana Pudding

vanilla pudding
vanilla wafers
whipped topping

You know the drill - layer wafers, pudding and bananas.  End with whipped topping, sprinkle crushed vanilla wafers and a few dashes of cinnamon to top.  (On occasion I've done a meringue top.  That decision lies completely up to you)

Why cinnamon & crushed vanilla wafers you ask?  1) A little cinnamon never hurt anybody (unless you're allergic, of course) 2) Cinnamon gives it a little color on top 3) Crushed wafers give it that polished look 4) Lastly, they keep the plastic wrap from sticking to the whipped topping.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

with love as my arsenal

While I was in the shower today - because that's when a girl does some of her best thinking - I pondered a few of the things that've been troubling me...

Every morning, we drive to school and we see this lady.  Miss Crosswalk.  She looks like hell warmed over, pardon my french.  She's mad, grumpy, she yells.  Looks like someone was not so nice to her Cheerios, ya feel me?  Well, by default, my sinful nature wants to mow her down with my car.  I know, that's not nice, huh?  But I don't.  The kids whine and moan about how bitter she is.  And I agree, the look on her face says, "I hate standing here with this dang-dong sign.  Heck, I'll bite your head off, spit it out and stomp on it!  Just try me!"  I've wrestled to gain eye contact with her, but she won't even give me the time of day.  Maybe she's not a morning person?  And luckily, I'm not that mean.

Instead, I'd love to throw my car in Park, jump out and squeeze her tightly (OK, maybe not so much.  I'm just not a hugger by nature.)  I'd tell her we all have struggles, strife and suffering.  I'd steal that STOP sign right out of her hand and give it to the mom in line behind us and I'd scoop Miss Crosswalk up and take her to the cafe and let her spill her guts, telling me all about her anguish.  Even though I wouldn't know what to say to comfort her, I would want her to know that someone cares.  That I see her pain, it's written all over her face like fushia-colored lipstick.  I want to pray with her, to hold her hands and be the tool that God has called me to be.

Realistically, I don't see much of that happening for many reasons (i.e. the lady in the next car isn't going to just pull over and be the crosswalk while we have coffee, and troubles take more than 5 minutes to wade through, coffee or not.)  Surely, I can take baby steps to reach out to her.  They say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach but, can I use my God-given talents to spool her in?

Usher in hot chocolate and homemade chocolate chip cookies...

Yes, I have an idea.  Mother Teresa's the only one I've told, so shhh, keep it a secret!  I ran by the dollar store and picked up some throw-away coffee cups with lids.  I want her to know that while I have no idea who she is or what her struggles are, I think of her and her troubles trouble me and that I care and God says we should love our neighbors as ourselves and to share each other's burdens.  And so, I'm gonna love her.

Last night, I read a small portion of Luke and this stuck with me (God always has a plan, isn't it great?!) "But love your enemies, do good to them without hoping to get anyhing back.  Then you will have a great reward, and you will be children of the Most High God, because he is kind even to people who are ungrateful and full of sin.  Show mercy, just as your Father shows mercy." ~ Luke 6:35-36  It's not that the verse pushes me to do good deeds in return for rewards.  It's what God puts on my love daily.  The feeling when I put myself and anger aside, this is truly "making my motive God's glory" in action. 

Today, we started our official study of Nehemiah and how broken he was for the people of Judah.  My heart breaks for Miss Crosswalk and little Miss K's teacher, Miss Witch (again, not poking fun.)  We continue to pray for Miss Witch every night.  I can't imagine being a sixth grade teacher with all the puberty and hormones flying around in that room.  It's probably like lighting a dozen bottle rockets and watching them bounce off the walls!  Ooooh, I do not envy that poor young lady one single bit.

So, with love as my arsenal, we're making these ladies hot chocolate in the morning (because coffee can be made so many different ways, but hot chocolate's a one way street), accompanied by homemade chocolate chip cookies (they're the best, the Original Nestle Toll House cookies!) and a thank you card for their service.  I pray it softens their hearts and eases their morning.  Even if it's just for a few blessed minutes.

It's awesome, how when you put yourself on the back burner and focus on the hurting people around you, you forget about your struggles and the burden you were carrying's gone.  I love how the Lord works!

Fruity Baked Oatmeal

Photo courtesy of Taste of Home
Since the weather's cooling off here, hot food and drinks are on the menu!  We happen to fancy this recipe (found in my Taste of Home Most Requested Recipes book.)  It's perfect for cool mornings, makes a good amount, it's EASY and even the picky kids will like it!  You'll love leftovers or sharing with neighbors.  And really, you could substitute any fruit you like.  (You'll find my edits in blue.)

Fruity Baked Oatmeal

3 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup packed brown sugar - 3/4 cup or to taste
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon - pumpkin pie spice + dash nutmeg
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted - could substitute unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup chopped, peeled tart apple
1/3 cup chopped fresh or frozen peaches 2/3 cup canned peaches
1/3 cup fresh or frozen blueberries - excluded (I'm the only blueberry fan)
Additional milk, optional - add a little sugar and spices, to taste

In a large bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  Combine the eggs, milk and butter, add to dry ingredients.  Stir in the fruit.

Pour into an 8-in. square baking dish, coated with cooking spray.  Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 35-40 min. or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cut into squares.  Serve with milk if desired.

EDITOR'S NOTE: If using frozen blueberries, do not thaw before adding to batter.

As for serving with milk - my grandma always made what she called "Milk Sauce" (it was really nothing more than sugared up milk with spices) to pour over cobblers, etc.  This is a perfect recipe to use "Milk Sauce" with.  Just be careful, the baked oatmeal is a little sweet if you use 1 cup of brown sugar.  When making the oatmeal, I would start slow with the sugar and add more if need be.  Enjoy!


At the exact moment that things start to go all haywire, doubt knocks on my door, my house of surety.  He doesn't ask if he can come in or even stay a while.  Instead, he pushes past  and crashes on the couch.  He lingers and I feel uncomfortable.

There are times when I wonder...was it time?  Were we supposed to wait a bit longer to come here?  When you've looked at ump-teen houses and you backed into the trim on the landlord's garage, those are the times when everything seems bleak.  And I begin to question is this God's plan?  Or is this my plan?

How many houses will we have to look at?  Is there really such thing as "that feeling" when you walk in to a place?  Or do you just pick something and make it home?  How does that work exactly? 

How do you not feel like a failure when your sixth grader comes home and tells you they're reading out of third and fourth grade books or that they did this or that in first grade?  Or that the teacher yells all day and calls them crybabies?  I'm beginning to question things.  I'm beginning to miss home in a different way.  A way that doesn't necessarily miss the who's but, the what's.

I'm beginning to feel like we should run, run fast.  Back from where we came.  And not look back.  Looking back tows what if along for the ride.  It never fails...what if's a party pooper. 

Forget the coffee shop/bakery because it's infringing on my child's education.  Her happiness.  Is God's plan hunky-dory for all of us?  Surely, everyone experiences suffering.

I was the one struggling to find my purpose.  Now that it's in reach, my child is suffering and that doesn't sit well.  It cozies up next to doubt and they yell, "Hey, bring a couple bags a chips and some soda."  Oh gosh, they're trying to spend the day.

I'm feeling unsure and unaccomplished all over again.  Somehow, my suffering's not so important anymore.  Is my purpose something unforeseen, unimagined in my own eyes?  James Openheim once wrote, "The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet."  Right under my feet?  Was it always there?  I thought I was growing it under my feet.

"How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?"
~ Psalm 13:2

There are days when the pieces of this puzzle are coming together, making sense even and days when they're not.  Today, they're not.

So, I'm resting doing my best to rest here... 
"Do not be anxious about anything,
but in every situation,
pray and ask God for everything you need,
always giving thanks.
And God's peace,
which surpasses all understanding,
will keep your hearts and minds in Jesus Christ."
~ Philippians 4:6-7

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

cold weather company

Unlike those of you suffering with rain and tornado warnings on the East coast, we (some of us, not necessarily myself) are living it up here in the Midwest.  Our high today was a whopping 65 degrees with a steady breeze and lots of sunshine!  (The forecast for tonight threatens to freeze us to death, literally, with 39 being the low!)  I sported a charcoal long john shirt, jeans and tennis shoes today and found it to be acceptable.  While I was out, I picked up a couple pair of jeans for the man and will grab more Fall clothing when we return home for a short but, much needed visit.

In celebration of the cool weather, we're joining forces with our friends, the W's and collaborating on chili, cornbread and homemade applesauce + dessert!  Yum!  It's always good times when we're together and we enjoy them immensely!  Our love for them grows deep and wide with every day that passes.  They're like home away from home and I love to be in their company!  Getting ten kids together ~ yes, I said 10.  Read that line again ~ and four adults is always a party with lots of fun to be had. 

My favorites...hiding high up in the tree with them when we play hide and seek.  that I'm chosen to be "it" every other time.  the talks that little Miss L and I have and the way she tells me not to leave yet because she "likes to talk" she says.  the way she tells me I'm more like an aunt to her than a friend.  when we're behind them in the pickup line at school and the "+3 group" wave at us through the back windshield, oh, say at least three times within 2 blocks.  the way they fight over Miss K, all of them.  the way they scream, "It's the...(insert our last name)!" whenever we see them out and about.

God has shown mercy on us, just knowing their family and I truly am grateful.  My heart aches with joy to be near them, I'll say it again and again.  I look forward to the many meals and good times we'll share with them.

a little fun on Tuesday

My heartache has left.  It's challenged my creative side these days and I just want to sew.  Like a mad woman.  To love on people through needle and thread, like fabric soul food.  I have all these fantastic ideas and I'm dying for my machine.  Dying, I say.  I want to walk into a Joann's and just go craaaazy.  Pick out all kinds of coordinating fabrics.  Run home.  Pull out patterns tutorials {or not} and just sew things.  I have a weird hankering for a yellow, gray, black and cream-colored quilt for my grandma.  I bet she'd hate it.  {With a passion}  I just don't think it'd be her cuppa tea, but I envision it being beautiful and lovely.  Maybe she'd fall for it eventually.

Is it just me, or do you swoon over this palette of colors too?  I found it here at Smashed Peas and Carrots.

Photo courtesy of Smashed Peas and Carrots

There are sooo many projects to finish, to start.  They were piling up on me before we left and this would an excellent time to tackle a few.  So if you see a package in your mailbox, know that you were owed something long, long ago.  My apologies.  Give me a bit, I have to make a trip home to pick up some stuff first.

Also, I would love to make my Vikings-loving friend a Vikings-something or other.  I saw something, I can't say what, and thought of her.  I'm also convinced I can hand deliver Brett Favre for twenty-eight dollars.  giggle.  He's waiting for me downtown.  giggle giggle.  Just wearing all the wrong colors, that's all.  No!  I will NOT make him a new uniform.  (I've learned that clothes are tough.)  And see, what'd I tell you about the windy city and frizzy hair?  They don't mix!   Thankfully, I got that mop cut and it is way more manageable, thankyouverymuch.

Wow, I look just a little crazed in that picture.  Brett'll do that to a girl.  Not me, of course.  He's handsome and all, but he's not my type.  And is it me?  Or is he lookin' a little pale?  Maybe he's feeling a little woozy, wasn't impressed by the wind-blown mop either.  Is it Halloween?  Because we are scaaaa-rrrrry!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Easy Italian Chicken Sandwiches

Tonight, we tried something different.  Wasn't sure our crowd would go for it as it got dirty looks from the littles.  Surprisingly, they liked it.  The cheese hid the veggies and they were pleased with the taste.  Will definitely make again.  {Sorry no photos.}  My additions/substitutions are in blue.

Easy Italian Chicken Sandwiches

6 boneless chicken breast halves
1 tbsp. black pepper to taste
1 2/3 oz. dry Italian salad dressing mix
28 oz. chicken broth 16 oz. - too salty, will try water next time
1- 8 oz. jar of mild giardiniera

Place ingredients in crock pot in order listed.  Cook on low 6 hours. Or high for 3-4 hours. Remove chicken and shred using 2 forks.  Mine was so tender, I shredded it right there in the crock pot.  Return meat to crock pot.  Serve on Italian bread or rolls.  I used hot dog buns (easier for the littles to handle) toasted in the oven.  Topped with a slice of muenster cheese.  Pop back in oven until cheese is melted.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

ramblings and such

This week, I've been content.  Maybe it was the migraine that brought me to a jolting halt on Monday night and Tuesday.  Maybe it was making my motive God's glory.  Maybe it was just The Big Man Upstairs sayin' slow down, take a break, let it all seep into the cracks and crevices of your heart and soul, chew on it.  Maybe it was Uncle J getting good reports from his doctors and getting closer to a diagnosis.  Perhaps it was a lovely combination.  In any case, it's been a pleasant week and I am oh-so thankful.

Retail therapy's always good for the soul.  And since I haven't ventured out to do any real shopping and have only one long sleeve shirt that I've been wearin' the heck out of lately, it was time.  Totally.  So, one of my new bestest good friends and I went shopping.  Thrift store style.  We spent an enjoyable, lengthy time browsing and sorting through clothes.  In the end, I came out with a few great pieces for the kids and myself.  Oh let's face it, I got the most.  Miss K is of the age now that she must do her own shopping.  It's just that way.  My criteria:  I have to love it.  Haveto.  That's it.

With that being said, there's a few things that still bother me...

See this? 

It's the official lunch survey. I throw one in Miss K's lunchbox once a month or every other week or so. I color it a bit so it doesn't look so blah and she and her friends fill it out and they think I'm all hipster mom and stuff. {smile}  But then, today there's this...
If Mr.T (not of the A-Team) were to see this, I do believe his soul would be dampened, disheartened even.  Shoot y'all, if he weren't of the living, breathing type, I do believe he'd roll smack over in his grave.  Ya see, this was Miss K's favorite subject last year and it was due to the efforts of one Mr. T.  He was fantastic at teaching reading and writing.  He challenged these kids and drove them to new heights.  Now, I feel like Tanya Harding came by and whacked us both with a crow bar.  Honest y'all. 
I tell you, I'm not pleased with this school, with its staff.  As "the new kid", Miss K's taken quite a few undeserved punches and I really feel stepped on at this point.  If I wasn't a Jesus freak, I'd stomp right in there and act like a, well, you know....a, a, not so nice lady.  That's what!  Instead, we continue to pray for Miss Witch.  Don't laugh, it's really how part of her name is pronounced and I didn't divulge all of for the sake of the innocent.  Kinda ironic though.  At this point, she's about thiiiiisss close to me really going off in there.  Every day it's something new and Miss K has been known for her demeanor, her shy and obedient way.  I'm really taken aback by how these people haven't tried to cater to her, treat her special, being that she's the new girl and all.  She has a ton of friends.  Good girls, I might add.  They're cute and funny like her.  We host them here often.  It's sad, truly sad.
Now.  I feel like I'm harboring a secret here.  Really.  It's become a skeleton in my closet.  I'm afraid to mention it to our friends.  OK.  You twisted my arm.  We've looked online at real estate in a neighboring town.  ThereI said it.  They're rated one of the top 50 schools in IL.  They have soccer.  EEEEK!  And we hear it's a good town.  A little larger.  But good.  I'm interested.  It's 25 or 30 minutes from here.  Doable for sure.  We could still go to church, do the coffee shop/bakery, etc., etc.  I feel like I've cheated on my friends.  What is wrong with me?
Lastly, we've all had rough weeks here.  I stated last night, I wasn't afraid to go home.  We don't have to stay here.  Problem is, I don't know what's at home for us.  For me.  I've gotten a taste of life outside and it's good.  Very good.  Do I wish it were closer to my friends and family?  Yes.  Do I miss the heebie jeebies out of them.  Heck yeah!  I never liked contemporary church.  Now that we're part of one, I couldn't imagine anything else.  I love Steve's preaching.  He's so full of the spirit, passionate for Christ, on fire for the Lord.  He's spontaneous.  There's no neutering born-again Christians, you take their fire and run with it.  His messages punch you in the stomach and bring you to your knees. They make you wanna work for the glory of God.  Yesterday.  Put love in action.  Yesterday.
This place and I.  We have a love-hate relationship and most days, I can't figure out which it is.  Love?  Hate?  Hmm.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sunday night small group - testimony, week 1

Sunday night's small group focused on "Testimony: Telling the Story with our Life".  It was the first in this month's 4-week study and week #1 is always the "What?" and "Why?" - exploring the definition and importance.  I sometimes feel nervous about talking to other people when it comes to God, specifically when you have a purpose in mind.  Not if it's another believer, but when speaking with an unbeliever or someone in question, it's difficult to anticipate how the conversation will go.  Will they be hostile and debate what you're saying, be curious or completely open?  So, I found this to be an interesting topic. 

We read through 1 Peter 1, broke everything down by verse and this is part of the discussion that followed...

"What word comes to mind when you hear the word Evangelism?"  Fear, Mormons & Jehovah's witness, tracts and knocking on doors, anxiety, pressure

"What if evangelism was less about defending a doctrine than delighting in a person?  What if our effectiveness in sharing the gospel was less about a polished technique than a vibrant love relationship with Jesus?  What if our witness is more about who we are than what we can do?

The truth is we are constantly evangelizing.  The way we live our lives is constantly telling people how we define 'good news'.  Our lives, attitudes, actions, reactions and words tell a story of where we have placed our hope."

"Do you think our culture uses the label 'born-again' to identify a subset of people within a larger group of 'Christians'?  Why?"  Just over seventy percent of people today call themselves Christians.  Those who are "born-again" make up only a small percentage of that and are labeled weird, conservative and fanatical but, Peter was saying this of all true followers of Christ [that they should be "born-again"].

"Evangelism is not about winning people to a religion.  We are not seeking converts.  If we were trying to do these things, our approach would be entirely different.  How so?"  It would be more of a "marketed approach", thinking that what comes out of our mouths is going to "save" someone.  More about having a systematic list of verses we use when we witness. 

I have to know and understand that "new birth" is a supernatural event...something I can't accomplish.  I'm not able to "save" anyone, that's in God's hands.  I can share my testimony through the way I live my life and through speech but, the fact that I can't save someone, this is good, because it takes the pressure off of me, the weight off of my back.  I can witness to someone all I want but, God is the one in control.

There are opportunities daily to live and speak about where we've placed our hope and the excitement we have in that hope.  Therefore, evangelism is a call to holy living.  Peter writes in v.13-16...
  • prepare your minds for service
  • have self-control
  • put all your hope in the gift of grace
  • be obedient
  • do not live as you did in the past
  • be holy in all you do
"Now that you have made yourselves pure by obeying the truth, you can have true love for your Christian brothers and sisters.  So love each other deeply with all your heart." 1 Peter 1:22  Therefore, we can live out our testimony and we can speak it in love to others.

That's just the tip of the iceberg and definitely a great study!  I'm excited for next week when we talk about the "Who?" - Be Who You Are (Evangelism must always flow from identity!)

make your motive...

At church Sunday, I watched a little girl be handed to her granddad and she wrapped her arms around his neck and squeezed tightly.  Her eyes, like gleaming diamonds, beamed with delight.  It broke me.  Completely.  At that very moment, my heart shattered into a million tiny pieces.  I tried for what felt like an eternity but in all actuality was probably only a minute or two, to pull it together.  I couldn't manage and luckily, we were sitting near the end of our row toward the back. I ducked out and headed for the ladies' room where I grabbed toilet paper and stood there in front of the window.  I cried and I pleaded for God to give me the strength to make it through this service, through this day.

During church, I heard these words...

I wrote them down in my Bible and they stuck like glue. They ring in my head and they tell me, if you make your motive God's glory, everything, everything will fall in to place.  So, while I am being tried daily, I am also reminded that God put me here for a purpose, for His glory. 

A friend once told me that she could look back at her paths and see how God had prepared her for the season she was in.  I felt puzzled.  I wasn't sure what God had planned for me and I didn't know what direction my life would take.  Even on rough days, without a shadow of a doubt, I know that this is where I am supposed to be.  I believe it with my heart and I know that God's got big plans for me.  This coffee shop/bakery ministry is what I was made to do.  It's what I love. 

While I wait for it to be windows, a new kitchen, paint, etc. I anticipate life in that place.  The sweet smell of sugar and flour, pastries, pies and coffee wafting through the air.  I dream of the people who will fill that place, the ministry it will be, the memories we'll make.  Ever since I can remember, I have loved working in the kitchen.  I'm most happy in the warmth of a hot oven, surrounded by spices and the aroma of delectable treats.

My mind has been pleasant and short for the last two days. It doesn't dwell on the "what I want", the "what I have" or "don't have" or even the "I miss". It lingers not. Yesterday, my mind knew that I needed to bake pumpkin pies for the community dinner, that there were two loads of clothes that needed to be done by Tuesday morning, and that it's "Meet the Teacher Night" at school. Today, it's been to straighten up, finish cleaning the bathroom, send out e-cards and a couple of letters, and that tonight we have a XC meet. That's it. That's all.

With God's glory as my motive, I shouldn't be concerned about me, I should fix my eyes upon Jesus and the rest will fall into place.  I'm working on this, taking it day by day.  And slowly, things are falling into place.

Friday, September 7, 2012


- from Jodi Capoult's book "Handle With Care"
The whir of the machines lulls my soul again.  This tiny town in its quiet and stillness is dark and dreary this morning.  Clouds loom overhead and rain threatens.  I sit and listen as the machines gear up for the wash cycle.  Lucky, I'm the only one here.  I deliberately didn't wear my watch, don't wanna dwell on the time.  Here, amongst the green walls and the cream colored appliances, I wonder what everyone’s doing back home.  I envy their ability to multi-task while throwing a load in the washer.  I envy the coziness of their couch as I linger in a cold, hard, beige plastic lawn chair.  This life, isn't exactly what I’d imagined, but I knew what the circumstances would be.  I know it’s all so temporary yet on occasion, it seems endless.  At times, getting settled isn’t even in sight.

I envy the lives of those who haven’t been turned upside down.  I long for a normal, a constant, a stable.  I long for a kitchen with all its gadget-filled glory, one I call my own.  Life as I now know it is completely different from anything I knew.  It's unsettling, disturbing even.  Over and over, I tell myself it's temporary and I do my best to embrace this new season.  Though there are days when I get everyone off to school and I come home and crawl back into bed and throw a little pity party all day, just reading, surfing the web and snacking, until an hour before it's time to pick them up.  I wait until the very last minute, shower, dry my hair, a bit of makeup, and run out the door.  Just in the nick of time, looking like I'm totally with it, even when I'm not.
I miss hanging out with my old friends.  Their sandwiches with hefty homegrown tomatoes, their “in minutes” potato chips, watching their babies grow and change and turn into toddlers.  Their impromptu walks and long, deep conversations.  I miss hopping in the car, hair a hot mess, and just showing up at my mom’s for absolutely no reason at all.  No, those days are over.  Any visits now require packing and planning.  Not five or even twenty minutes in the car.  No, an entire day.  Fourteen hours worth of staring at yellow lines, driving over the speed limit and constantly looking over my shoulder for cops, bathroom breaks at smelly rest stops, stretching our legs for only minutes before we hop back in and go again.
The adventure, its up and left me.  Adventure called its friend homesick and invited her over for the week (or three).  We have friends here now, we’ve spent time in their homes and I've even cooked for them.  We’ve loved them just like our old friends but, somehow, it’s just not the same.  I want a camping trip, I want to kiss my puppies' foreheads and smell the earthy scent of kitty fur.  I want to walk around the yard, aimlessly carrying a hen and listen to her cluck and bwak.  I want to sit amongst friends at the fire pit, my hair filling with annoying hints of smoke and roasted marshmallows.  I know it’s weird, call it what you want but, I long to see their faces, hug them one long powerful time.  I don’t want to hear their voices across a delayed cell phone connection anymore.  I want to be in their presence, to feel the love and to love them back.

I don’t want our visits to be ruled by the school calendar and how many days they allow for absences.  The Lord may have led us here but, He never said this’d be easy.  I told myself that it would.  I tunneled my vision to see the adventure in it all, to look at the positive and shove the negative under the rug.  I’ve been trying not to dwell on all this but, sometimes it just helps to dump it here in the blogosphere. 
And if you haven’t heard from me, it’s not you.  It’s me.  I haven't felt like typing the sadness via e-mail because I don't want to be fake and tell you life's grand (even though, it could be much worse.)  And I don't just wanna sound like a big whiner either, filling your day with my negative vibe.  I haven’t really felt like talking, I haven’t felt like crying in your ear over the phone.  It does neither of us any good and so, I talk to my mom.  I can play the strong bit for her because I know that she’ll cry in a heartbeat and I won't do that to her.  I refuse.
So, never fear-o, I will call.  Sooner.  Or later.  And if I don't, well, I don't know.  Maybe you call me.  And I'll play all nice and we'll talk about irrelevant things like the weather, how the seasons are changing, what you've been doing lately.  I like hearing that stuff.  Just don't ask me how it's going.  I'll lie.  Tell you I'm good.  And then, I'll change the subject because I'm weak like that.  OK?
This post is specifically for the therapeutic purpose of relinquishing my thoughts today.  It's a raw kinda day and not intended to dampen yours.  You know who you are.  Think of it as a core dump...
core dump - [kahr, kofr] [duhmp] (n.) -  A copy of the data stored in the core memory of a computer, usually used for debugging purposes; a file of a computer’s documented memory of when a program or computer crashed. The file consists of the recorded status of the working memory at an explicit time, usually close to when the system crashed or when the program ended atypically.
It's just me, lettin' go.  I needed to write it down somewhere, out of sight, out of mind?  Highly doubtful.  But thanks for hanging in there with me anyway.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

meet 5 - XC madness

We ventured to El Paso Gridley and dare I admit, up until this point I thought Cross Country was rather boring.  Sad, but true.  I know that long distance running isn't for the faint of heart and I've never had what it takes to be a runner.  (I'm also not a Nascar fan, I can't stand to watch cars drive for hours in an oval shape.  Not a hater, just not a fan.)  This time, I was taken by surprise at the hay bale jumping, creek crossing and ravine climbing.  After you hurdled your last hay bale, up hill mind you, then you crossed the finish line.  Not your average XC course if you're asking me.

With the temperature hovering in the mid 90's and humidity making it unbearable, I was a little worried when we arrived and the kids were dripping with sweat as they sat in the shade.  Miss K looked at me with that face that says I don't want to do this and said, "Mom, it's hot."  I told her I knew, we all were hot.  I felt awful for that child.  Everyone was covered in sweat and our clothes grew damp and clingy.  We weren't even moving and we were miserable.

The first race began and the girls were doing OK.  Then, the second and a boy collapsed.  Literally, he came through the finish line and passed out, standing up.  Luckily, there were people there to catch him and they began stripping off his shoes and socks and pouring water all over his body. 

This scene, gave way to a little panic inside me and I wanted to go grab my little girl and take her home.  So I began praying for that boy and for my child who would be next to face this brutal course and the blistering heat.  Was I crazy for wanting to take her and run?

I stood at the starting line and watched as they took off.  There were so many kids running in the Open that I couldn't find Miss K.  The Open was a mix of both boys and girls and there was a flood of children running.  As soon as they were gone, I ran over to one of the creeks and watched and waited.  Finally, I saw her, she was doing well.  I didn't get any pictures because I was so relieved and excited that she looked so strong as she forged ahead.

I cheered her on and then moved to the finish line.  I saw her run through behind us and she'd have to conquer another hill before we'd see her again.  Finally, she made it and I was never so relieved in my life.  I stood there a moment or two, thanking God that she was OK.  Then, I left and went to check on her. 

She was hot, of course, but she was fine.  Her knee was bothering her and luckily, I'd packed a bag of ice with a wash rag inside so she could ice and cool off at the same time.  I told her how proud I was and squeezed her tightly.  I tried not to embarrass her or hang on too long because her face was red and as a mom, I know how it is to be hot and tired and sweaty and have people all over you.  I just wanted her to know that my heart swelled with pride.

This is Mr. P.  He's kinda special to us and such a cutie!

I wanted to stay there and hold her and kiss her sweaty little, gross forehead, but I knew that was just silly because here she was 11 years old and that was not appropriate by any 11 year old standard.  And so, we left, dropped the man off with his daddy to get ready for bed and I went back to the school to wait for the bus of Olympians with the rest of the parents.

Monday, September 3, 2012

meet 3

Tomorrow is meet 5 at EPG.
An hour's drive.
Another hot afternoon.
Glad I just take pictures.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

rain, rain go away

The rain continues.
Fall Fest continues.
Face painting.
Carnival rides.
Fair food.
And then, we retreat.
Lunch with Megan.
Apples to Apples.