Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Winter Song

Spring is Coming!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Gutsy Mamas

I rarely listen through an entire sermon and arrive at a preacher's intended take-away. It's actually evidence of my pitiful attention span more than a reflection of poor sermonizing.

This fine Sunday I found my mind wandering off to the end of Exodus 1 to visit with 2 of my favorite characters, Shiphrah and Puah. (unfortunate names nowadays)

The story goes that wicked Pharoah of ancient Egypt was interested in eliminating God's people and ordered these 2 ladies, Hebrew midwives, to kill all male Hebrew babies upon their births.

Nothing doing. Not only did these two gutsy mamas defy his order, they boldly lied to him and said that the hearty Hebrew women delivered the boys before they could even attend to the mothers. They apparently knew they were on the frontlines of a cultural and spiritual battle.

I am charmed by their nerve, and intrigued that God Himself seems to endorse the fact that they threw off the authority figure that He placed over them in favor of His higher purpose. Not sure I get that completely, but I am also struck by God's esteem of wifery and mothering, demonstrated by the fact that He rewards their fear of Him by giving them families of their own:

"So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. And because the midwives feared God, He gave them families of their own." Exodus 1:20

Do we daily see our opportunities as wives and mothers as being as precious as a reward? Do we honor those who embrace this calling as heroines? Are our households formidable op centers for a higher calling? Do we often enough gauge our trajectory and make the necessary adjustments?

This world needs more gutsy mamas!

Dolly Calling

A couple of weeks ago I was having a rough morning. I had stayed up too late the night before, trying to "make breakfast" for some people who have gotten the better of me lately.

We woke up later than we should have and were met with a few household mishaps which we used as our lame excuses for treating each other poorly before going our separate ways for the morning. Safe to say the goodbye kisses at the door were not much more than obligatory.

I then granted myself the luxury of having a good boo-hoo at the kitchen sink while loading the dishwasher full of breakfast dishes. The broken dishwasher, that is, for which I had forgotten to call Steve, our amazing repair guy. Later in the day I would need to rewash those and other dishes by hand. We dirty an alarming amount of dishes. But I digress.

I have learned by now that a good boo-hoo must be tempered with heart-guarding thoughts like Zephaniah 3:17: "The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing" and my old standby, Philippians 4:5-9.

In between recitations of everything I ought to know and would tell a girlfriend if the tables were turned and she called me for a pep talk, I found myself wishing that I could think of a friend to call who would pray for me. And just pray. Not one who would join in my whining with me or one who would need a detailed description of my drama or ask much of me in return.

I do have quite a sphere of girlfriends, but I needed to reach outside the realm of fellow mommies with young children underfoot whom I wouldn't dare call before 10 AM. So I dialed up one of my Titus 2 divas. And don't you know that she said that she had already thought of me and prayed for me while she was in the shower that morning? (Part of me shudders to think of how much worse a morning it could have been had she not prayed for me! Yikes!)

Our conversation was enough to get me back on my feet and ready to do the kind of domestic battle I am called to do. Loving these people and meeting their needs in the midst of crazy interruptions in a place where the unforeseen is the routine.

And then He really showed up. The phone rang back at me. I walked across the room to check the caller ID and determined that I was only answering that thing if it was one of the big kids calling about something they had forgotten or The Banker was calling to say he was sorry.

It was neither. On the display was the name of a dear friend, Dolly. Now Dolly and I are dear friends for sure, but we are the kind of forever friends that might only get to talk once in a blue moon. In fact, we had last talked about a year ago when we ran into each other at a local farmer's market.
She is a gem, having been refined by many trials, not the least of which was a long-awaited liver transplant several years ago. Her conversations are always laced with wisdom gained from years of faith-walking. I could not imagine what would cause Dolly to call so early in the day and my delight at the thought of catching up with her was mixed with the suspicion that something was amiss. My curiosity was piqued and I picked up the receiver.
Dolly answered my greeting by getting right to the matter at hand: She called me by name and asked if I was okay. A tricky question. "OK" is such a relative term, isn't it? I stammered and said that yes, I thought I was "basically OK", but why would she call to ask that?
This is where it gets really good:
Dolly proceeded to tell me that her Bob had gone out to get their mail and was startled to find, tucked in with their mail, an envelope address to us
at our address, about 5 miles away, in a different town with a different zip code. Realizing that there was no earthly reason that a piece of mail should be re-routed to my friend's doorstep without the intervention of an automated mail system or a postal worker along its journey, Dolly looked at Bob and said, "I have to call and see if anything is wrong that I should pray about!"

I repeated back to Dolly the scene she had just described: Our mail...her house...she defaults to prayer mode...calls me ASAP...on that morning?! Well shut my mouth! Unreal. He lives and I know that I know it.

We spent the next while visiting and good old Dolly lavished me with words of instruction and wisdom and reassurances that perseverance is the only answer. When I drove over to pick up my annointed envelope I moved aside her back issues of Birds & Blooms to have a seat in full view of multiple framed pictures of her grown children. Another one of my Titus 2 divas.

Without wanting to delay what could be chain reaction, I hastily called a few girls I know could use some unsolicited prayer and told them so. In the last few days I have seen the effect of those calls abounding in power.
We can't know the impact of a wee bit of encouragement applied to a friend's hurting heart.

A divine payment forward.

"Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." Phil.4:9


One of my favorite things around the house is our set of Feed on The Word dishes. I discovered the product line in the back of a magazine several years ago and used some money given to us by our grandmothers to purchase them. I knew those sweet girls would be pleased with the investment.

I ultimately found them online through an Ebay store.

Deuteronomy 6:5: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your might and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and you shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down,and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."

Hopefully on days when we fail to speak of the Lord ourselves, the bowl of Cheerios will speak for us!

family rules

A blog inspired art project, helped along by a friend with a Cri-cut and a yard sale found vintage frame. A workshop for friends will have to wait until July. In the meantime, I must find a wall space for it.

MOPS Freezer Meal Morning

Our MOPS freezer meal morning was a whole lot of work but a whole lot of fun! I spoke on the power of the family dinner table....

Holly played Rachel Ray, doing a demo meal and chatting coherently at the same time...

Lots of chicken recipe samples were tasted by the Moms...
And our tablescapes survived the admiration of many pre-schoolers! What was I thinking, using Sweethearts candy to embellish one of the tabletops at 9AM? Sorry Moms!
Now to plan out a freezer-meal prep night for those brave souls who requested one! Oh my poor kitchen!

Extreme Makeover

It was time for this boy to have a grown up bedroom, replacing the school-bus yellow walls that he wanted so badly when the Pink Victorian first became ours.
Our crew loves to tell the story of how I came to be driving in a homemade trashbag skirt after a disastrous yellow paint spill. I was working alone on the finishing touches of the room before we had even moved in. I lost my balance and a considerable flood of latex pearl finish saturated my jeans. We had nothing at the house yet for me to change into so I was forced to be resourceful and make the most of a construction grade black trash bag that I found in the basement. It seemed like something Lucy and Ethel would have done. I had no idea that the story would be part of my legacy. I half expect it to be told at my funeral!

Anyway, on his birthday, without his knowing, his sneaky family planned an Extreme Makeover Bedroom Edition!

We had to work FAST!

Upon his return home he found a gift-wrapped doorway with a "MOVE THAT BUS" poster. Hours of team effort resulted in one of our best-executed surprises!
So glad he liked the end result because there was no turning back!
Sure to be another great family story...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Not Below Freezing!

I am way too bleary-eyed to be posting much, and have hours to go before sleep will be allowed, but for a fun reason: Tomorrow morning, bright and early, my sister-in-law and I are joining forces to bring some creative meal planning and tablescape ideas to our MOPS group.

Basically we will be doing our best impersonations of the amazing Gretchen of Savorysecrets.blogspot.com, with a little Martha Stewart and Rachael Ray mixed in.

We will be demonstrating and serving samples of Gretchen's Garlic Parmesan Encrusted Chicken, Cranberry Chicken With Wild Rice, and Phyllo-Wrapped Chicken.

It was our hope to have Gretchen be our guest speaker herself, but she has something else cooking at the moment....twin babies!! A little bedrest is in order to keep those two buns in the oven for as long as they need to be.

In the meantime, check out her blog and learn how to order her wonderful self-published cookbook featuring dozens of her delicious make-ahead recipes!

More photos and recipes to follow after MOPS tomorrow. In the meantime, here is a freezer meal standard and some related linkies to inspire us to stock our freezers.

Roast Sticky Chicken

4 tsp salt

2 tsp paprika

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp thyme

1 tsp white pepper

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 large roasting chicken - as big as you can find

1 cup chopped onion

In a small bowl, thoroughly combine all the spices. Remove giblets from chicken, clean the cavity well and pat dry with paper towels. Rub the spice mixture into the chicken, both inside and out, making sure it is evenly distributed and down deep into the skin. Place in a resealable plastic bag, seal and freeze. Label the bag with the weight of the chicken (so you will know how long to cook it) and the date.Thaw chicken in refrigerator. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stuff cavity with onions, and place in a shallow baking pan. Roast, uncovered, for 2-2 1/2 hrs or about 20-25 min./lb.After the first hour, baste chicken occasionally with pan juices. The pan juices will start to caramelize on the bottom of pan and the chicken will turn golden brown. Let chicken rest about 10 minutes before carving.

Tips on freezing:

from the Super Suppers website:
Q. What is the best way to defrost my entrées?The proper way to defrost any frozen food is to store it in your refrigerator for 24 - 48 hours so it can thoroughly defrost. Defrosting food by leaving it on the kitchen counter at room temperature has the advantage of speed, but it also has the disadvantage of allowing for bacteria and spoilage, so we do not recommend this method. We do not recommend defrosting in the microwave, but this is only second-best and should be done with care. Over-microwaving can cause the edges of the food to overcook.Most entrees can cook just a bit longer if they’re frozen or partially frozen. Cooking instructions are printed on the food labels.Q. How long can a thawed entrée stay in the refrigerator?Completely thawed seafood dishes should be stored in the refrigerator no longer than 24 hours before cooking. Other completely thawed entrées can be stored up to 2 days.Q. How long can an entrée stay frozen?We recommend no longer than 2 months.

Facebook group: OAMC Freezer Supper Swappers
http://www.thedinnersolution.com/ (software to help with meal planning)
http://www.marthastewart.com/photogallery/freezer-friendly-foods (recipes)
http://www.bulkfreezercooking.com/ (recipes)
http://onceamonthmom.com/cooking/recipes/ (recipes and tips)
http://makeaheadmeals.blogspot.com/ (recipes and tips)


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Perfect Pitstop

After a quick stop for sleep at the home of some dear folks in Indiana, we turned south and made our way toward Wichita, by way of Hallmark's Crowne Plaza in Kansas City.

A walk in a fountain and comfort food delivered to our table via model train were just what was needed to refresh us for the final leg of our trip that day.

Little did we know that the adventure had only begun! Read on!

So About That Road Trip...

On a sunny Sunday morning in late July, we packed 6 humans, as many duffle bags, and a number of iPods into our poor Honda Odyssey and waved goodbye to The Banker before a 14 hour drive to Indianapolis. The boy upon the shoulders was the only one genuinely smiling for the camera...he just knew that he was going to ride a horse when we got to New Mexico, and that was enough for him!
It was already clear that this trip would be a step of faith. We only knew that we would have the honor to serve people whose experience and heritage was very different from our own.
A couple of things for sure; the unexpected was a certainty, and whatever we had forgotten to pack could definitely be found at one of the dozens of Walmarts we would pass along the way. Thank you Lord for Walmart.

Monday, January 4, 2010


Oh Dear. What a lot has changed since that last fateful post. That is the reason for the great lapse in blogging. There was no shortage of pictures and stories to share, just my inability to process it all into incremental posts.
I had expected that our time out West might be challenging, but little did I know that it would be so defining; a foreshadowing of so many alterations in my thinking about transparency, commitment, and the definition of ministry itself. (Disclaimer: The Banker and I, as well as our brood, are intact and thriving. Don't mistake these vague terms for anything else that could be written between the lines, please.)
So enough with the procrastination. The pictures and stories will make their way here by and by.
The tail end of the book of John, chapter 21 beckoned to me as I examined the ways in which Jesus Himself responded to conflict. Poor Peter was so prone to conflict and I love what Jesus did with that confounded man in this instance. It would seem that this was the first time that the two had a one-on-one since Peter's most glaring offense of a triple denial of his acquaintance with the Lord just before His crucifixion. I am struck that the Offended does not declare the offense. He does not demand to be recognized. He does not lay down terms of reinstatement. Nor does He seem to resent Peter's companions for associating with him.
Instead He makes them breakfast.
A little background.
Peter had it in his head to go fishing. His four buddies seem to have invited themselves to go along. After fishing all night long, they had not one fish to show for their efforts.
It was then, after their frustration and disappointment, that Jesus intervened. He called to them from the shore, "Friends, haven't you any fish?". I like that He had them speak their circumstance to Him. "No", they answered.
He tells them to cast their nets over to the other side of the boat and they will find fish. Were they tempted to question the unrecognized Lord's reasoning? To shift all of the weight of their efforts must have seemed useless.
But what other options did they have?
Of course they were soon struggling to haul in 153 large fish, and without the help of impetuous Peter who lept overboard when he finally got that it was Jesus calling to them.
Here I have to pause and wonder why Peter was so eager to get to the One he had terribly offended. I can only conclude that Jesus had demonstrated to Peter that He was an approachable and tender shepherd.
When he landed on shore ahead of the others, Peter found not only an understanding old friend, but a hot breakfast.
This just slays me. They found a fire of burning coals with fish on it and some bread. He hadn't just picked up bagels and coffee on His way to intercept Peter.
Burning coals.
How long might He have coaxed a fire into full flame just to produce glowing coals on which to bake bread for His traitorous friend?
Did He knead the dough Himself with His nail-scarred hands?
Did any of them see that even the fish which they had contributed to the meal were of His Providence?
And then He tends to Peter. No citation of the offense. Peter was not disqualified. Just a question, repeated three times to reveal Peter's own heart to him.
"Do you love me?". And the firm instructions. "Feed my lambs... Take care of my sheep.... Feed my sheep....follow me."
Those were his marching orders. Get back to work. No time to be lost.
And my heart smiles to know that even after all of this, faulty Peter still had the gall to ask the Lord questions about somebody else's business.
The end of the story is there for all to read.
So thankful that at the end of all of this world, we shall find ourselves together once again.