Monday, June 30, 2008

Monday Menu Planning

Monday--grilled kielbasa, corn on the cob, salad
Tuesday--Pork with Mascarpone sauce, green beans, salad
Wednesday--Grilled Lamb Steaks, steamed carrots, salad
Thursday--Pulled BBQ Pork, salads, veg tbd
Friday--Grilled hot dogs with chili, crisps, fruit salad
Saturday--Grilled chicken with tzatziki, peas, salads
Sunday--Pizza with Church Fellowship Group!

Other menu plans may be found this week at Heavenly Homemakers

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thankful Thursday

I have thought about participating this meme for a long time, but something always gets in the way. But, I'm finding that I need to be more diligent in recognizing my blessings and articulating them. So here I am!

*I am thankful for friends who partner with me in prayer, and don't judge me for what my needs are but just love me anyway.

*I am thankful for my blogging friends that check in with me when I'm not posting much; you are such an encouragement to me.

*I am thankful for my blogging friends who are so honest in their own journeys; you help me realize that we are not alone in this!

*I am thankful for my family who put up with me when I'm not anywhere near my best.

*I am thankful for a God that is able to take all the stuff in my life and use it to make me a better disciple. But mostly, I am thankful that He is my Sustainer when nothing else seems sustainable.

Coming Out of Chaos

The last several months have been quite difficult for me. I have had some unexplained, overwhelming tiredness. This has led to a feeling of not-quite-depression but something similar to it. A few other symptoms have been there as well. So, just before our holiday to Florida, I took myself off to the doctor. Honestly, I had a probable diagnosis in my head, although I never said it aloud. After listening to what has been going on, my doctor said, "well I bet it is "x" so let's run a few tests to confirm that.:) "X" happened to be what I thought it was as well, so I was totally reassured. It is something easily controlled with medication, and it runs in my family, so it made sense.

I came back from holiday and the next day went to get my test results. The doctor looked at me, rather puzzled, and said "well it isn't 'x'; in fact all your test results are totally normal." "What??" She said that perhaps it was depression mimicing the other results, and did a screening for that---which came back low to no depressed thoughts. I had said all along that I did not feel depressed, but more suppressed in my thoughts. Her conclusion was that maybe it was a Seasonal Affect Depression since we had a rather dismal winter and that we should just monitor it now that the sun was out to see if the symptoms go away. I'm to go back in 6 weeks if nothing changes. Not what I wanted to hear, but thanks.

Fast forward three weeks. I am feeling better with the sunshine, but the tiredness and overwhelmed feeling is sometimes still there. I spoke with a friend soon after my appointment and I said "if it isn't physical and it isn't psychological that only leaves one thing." She agreed that maybe it was a spiritual suppression and partnered with me to pray for a release. Almost immediately I began to feel more free and in control of what was going on. Don't let anyone fool you--spiritual battles are real and can be crippling.

The past few weeks have been all about persevering. I want instant results, but that is not how God works. Ironically, the In Other Words quote this week was one of my favorite by Spurgeon, "By perseverence, the snail reached the Ark." I didn't take the time to write this week, Tuesday was hectic and I prioritized time with the girls over time with my computer. But it was a great reminder that persevering will see victory. In His time, in His ability and by His grace. Not on my own merits. So, thank you Deborah for being a conduit for God to remind me to persevere.

As I persevere through this journey, I'm seeing some trends that I allowed to creep into my life over the last six to nine months, that must be reversed.
* My Bible Study that I lead had become very hit-and-miss with the busy schedules; I let other things take the place of that time rather than keeping it reserved for Bible Study, even if personal study time. I am being more diligent that the time is God's time even if the other ladies are unable to come.
*My personal quiet time had become almost non-existent as the girls' schedules change. I often used their nap time for my quiet time, that is not possible now. I am seeking to find other time in my day to set aside as my quiet time. I need to make it a priority.
*I've let go of scheduling the things that I need to do and therefore get overwhelmed by what needs to be done and when. So, I will go back to posting a weekly menu schedule on Mondays. I will make a list of things-to-do on Monday morning and stick to it for the week.
*I've totally let go of the hobbies that give me 'down time' because I've been too tired to do them. This week, I've gone back to stitching an hour a day. It is my reward for getting the house stuff done. And I have felt a ton better just having that time as my own. (okay, not as my own since the girls are playing or reading in the room with me, but it is still doing something I enjoy and not something that I have to do.)
*I get too focused on the negative things that are going on in my life, or family life. I am considering renewing my Gratitude Journal from a couple of years ago. I am going to begin participating in the Thankful Thursday meme to help refocus.

So that is the plan. I'm surfacing from the chaos of allowing things to pile up and not take them to the throne immediately. I believe the battle has been real. It is not coincidental that the overwhelmed feelings began at the same time that I accepted a new, challenging ministry opportunity. I believe whole-heartedly that God was in that endeavor, but it has suffered greatly with my lack of energy and focus. I'd welcome your prayers as I reorganize the chaos, and reprioritize what needs to get done. I know that God has a better plan. He doesn't desire for us to be in a spiritually suppressed state, but He uses the time to make us better. More to come, as I make this snail's journey.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Going Places


Dear Ash~

I sit here remembering the second time we were together. (The first time doesn't count because you were on your best behavior brought on by whatever threats your mom and dad came up with that day). You were so angry. Angry at me for coming into "Uncle German's" life and in your eight year old eyes, that was usurping your place. You could not begin to understand that Uncle German had already made it clear that you and your brother and sister were of utmost importance to him, and I must like you. You could not fathom how I could have started to love you long before I ever met you. You only saw me as an interloper and took every opportunity to lash out at me. Perhaps it was all my fault in your mind--after all you wouldn't have been moving from your home if Uncle German hadn't married me, moved to Birmingham and transferred your daddy to come work for him. At any rate, on this second meeting, you were not happy about going places at all. We were there to help your mom and dad paint the house to get it ready to sell. There in your little girl shoes, you stamped your feet and made it clear that going places was not what you wanted to do.

Who would have thought that it was just the beginning of the places you would go?

Fast forward four years. We were all going places again. This time to England. This move you were happy to make. In fact, you and your brother conspired to come earlier than your mom and sister. This time, instead of the bad guy, I got to be the solution. I could be at the hotel with you between school and your dad finishing work. You looked so grown up in your public school uniform! You hated the "practical" black shoes you were forced to wear with the uniform, but the rest was a grand adventure. You were so excited to make new friends, see new things, and spread your wings.

Spread your wings you did. In fact it was just a short time and you were going places again. This time, wearing rugby shoes, back to America for university. I kept thinking of that eight year old I met, but I was faced with a soon-to-be eighteen year old. You had grown into such a self-assured and beautiful young woman. I was proud that you now not only considered me "Aunt" but also friend. I could not love you more if there were a blood relationship. As I prayed for your university education, I marveled at the young woman God had destined for you to become.

Today, I sit her thinking of the new places you are going. You have traded your trendy boots for more durable options. You have just spent your first week in ROTC Leadership Training. I shouldn't be surprised that you chose the military as an option for your future since your grandpa, mother and father all faithfully served. But there is a part of me that quivers and quakes at your decision. Not that you can't cut it--my rugby playing, no-holds-barred, tell-it-like-you-see-it, sweet niece--I know you can cut it. But it is the places you could go with this decision that give me pause. I know that you will serve where ever you are sent and do a wonderful job at it. I pray that those places are out of harms way. I pray that your heart and your mind are protected from the things that you are likely to see in the coming years. I know the One who holds the places where you are going; don't ever lose sight of Him.

Going places....
Leadership Training...

How easy it was to let you go some places. How hard it is now! Praying for you!

Aunt MiPa

This post will serve as my entry into June's writing contest at Scribbit's. The theme, as you may have guessed, is "going places."

The picture is courtesy of and the photographer is "kakisky".

Monday, June 16, 2008

In Other Words--Basic/Radical Christianity

As Christian women, we must repudiate the world's agenda for women and seek to understand the Word's agenda for women... we must determine to be obedient to the the Word of God no matter what is says, with no compromises. This is what is means to be a woman of the Word. We must find out what the Bible teaches about marriage, about children, about men and women and their roles, and then we must be obedient with no apologies, no matter what the cost. Is this radical Christianity? No. This is basic Christianity."
~Nancy Wilson, The Fruit of Her Hands~

Jesus teaches us,

As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." He said to another man, "Follow me." But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family. Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." Luke 9:57-62

and he also said
"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Mark 8:34

In other words, Jesus taught us that in order to be His disciples, we would have to do things that were different from the world's agenda. He said that we would have to take up a "cross" meaning that the way of Christianity is not easy. There is struggle to it. There is sacrifice to it. It looks different from the world. Relationships are different. Roles between men and women, mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, employers and employees all change. There is a difference.

In fact, this is so basic to Christianity, I would rewrite Ms. Wilson's quote to be as follows:
"As Christian people, we must repudiate the world's agenda for people and seek to understand the Word's agenda for people... we must determine to be obedient to the the Word of God no matter what is says, with no compromises. This is what is means to be a people of the Word. We must find out what the Bible teaches about marriage, about children, about men and women and their roles, and then we must be obedient with no apologies, no matter what the cost. Is this radical Christianity? No. This is basic Christianity."

As people of God, people of the Word, we must know and understand what it says. But knowledge isn't enough. We must then act on it; we must be obedient. That kind of obedience to the Word is what the world notices. I love that Ms. Wilson says that we must do this without apology. I feel that we too often apologize for the differing ways we react. Perhaps we feel that it is being "humble" to apologize that our reactions are different from what is expected. But I fear that instead of humble we often appear to be weak and embarrassed. Basic Christianity as outlined here should not embarrass us. It actually empowers us to live out the life God has called us to lead.

"Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven."
Matthew 10:32-33

"I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile."
Romans 1:16

How I long to live that honestly! How I long to be a woman of the Word in that kind of obedience. In my longing for that kind of obedience, I find that I disagree with the author of the quote on one point. To live like that may be basic, but it is also totally radical to what is expected by those around us. Radical is a good thing. Basic Christianity looks Radical to the world.

Father God, help me to live a radical, sold out life of obedience to your call. My desire is serve You in such a way that those around me notice the difference. In my role as wife and mother, may my relationships to my husband and children glorify You. May my actions draw people to You, and may they see the reality, beauty and benefits of living a life of submission and obedience. My greatest desire is for You to be seen above all else. Amen.

The hostess this week for IOW is Chelsey at Joyfully Living. Please visit her site to be blessed by other interpretations or reflections on this quote. If you wish to participate, simply write a post on the quote and use Mr. Linky at Chelsey's site to lead us to you. May you have a blessed day!

Birthday Celebrations & Weekend antics

Thank you for all of your lovely birthday wishes. I had a wonderful birthday. Wednesday started with my birthday present arriving--a maid service to do a total spring clean of the house. They washed every wall, cleaned every surface, scrubbed the bathrooms and floors. They left the house smelling a subtle cinnamon that was used in the vacuum. It was awesome! Wednesday afternoon/evening my good friend Joy came and got the girls so German and I could have a date. We went to Manchester for a little shopping before dinner. We found an awesome Japanese steakhouse and enjoyed sushi and teppanyaki along with conversation that did not involve children! I love teppanyaki but we don't go there with the girls because the open flames right there make me nervous with Flower, lol.

Thursday was a quietish day enjoying my lovely clean house. Then Friday was the day of the big party. We had forty people with us celebrating my fortieth birthday which was pretty cool. The evening was informal and was "come and go as you can between 6 and 11." Our first guests arrived at 6:05 and the last guests left at 11:00, so the evening was full. German had ordered a six foot subway sandwich to feed the crowd alongside a huge and lovely white cake with raspberry filling. I added a couple of dips, chips, and veggies. Another friend brought pavlova and fruit salad. Everyone ate, chatted, laughed a lot and just enjoyed being together. The kids chased balloons and played football in the back garden. I'm not sure we have had a more relaxed party (or maybe I was just relaxed since I wasn't in charge of everything). Thanks German, Jewel and Flower for an awesome party!

Saturday we slept late, went out for a late brunch then came home to do a few things on the computer (like finish ordering Disney photo books). We grilled hot dogs on the grill for a light dinner. Sunday the girls got up early to give German his father's day gifts. Jewel had made a book for him at her Thursday Bible class. It had pictures of her, and her hand prints and footprints. Very cute. While in the States, Flower and I had snuck away to choose a "dad" photo frame for his gift. The girls chose a picture of them with their daddy to go in it. He will keep it at his office. Flower also wrote her name for the first time on father's day cards--so daddy and grandad got something special. Then it was off to church for our all-age worship service. The theme of the day was "An ABBA (father) Tribute" complete with the puppets singing a re-worked "Dancing Queen"/"He is the King", lots of ABBA puns, and a great drama performed by a real father/son of the Prodigal Son. It was our best all-age service yet (these started a few months ago). Sunday afternoon we had our house group Bible Study. We are studying spiritual gifts. The discussion was great. After the study, we all had chicken curry, rice and naan bread together. YUM! Perfect type of day. Last night German and I watched NASCAR after the girls were in bed. Awesome race--even if one of my least favorite drivers won.

It was a great weekend in these parts. How did you spend your weekend? Hope it helped you relax and prepare for the coming week. Blessings everyone!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

40 today! - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

Celebrating 40 today with a quiet date with German. The big party will be Friday with 50 or so of our closest friends. I may be scarce until after the party. Posts and updates next week, I promise.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

In Other Words---Dwell on These Things

Before I start my In Other Words post, I do want to acknowledge that I know some of you (all 3 or so of my family/friends who read) are waiting to read the details of the Florida trip. I have most of the fifteen entries written, but I have not downloaded any pictures. We took over 3000 pictures, and I need to clear hard drive space to download and edit. Once pictures are loaded, I'll post about the trip. For the rest of you, I'll warn you so you can tune out of the "What I did on my Vacation" if that is not your thing ;)

The day looms ahead, and it is only seven o'clock. Laundry, swimming lessons, ironing, school work, meal planning, general picking up, preparing meals, an evening meeting plus the phone calls and paperwork that needs to be done. "Ugh," is the only thought she can manage.

Plodding downstairs she stops and switches on the praise music. As her tea brews she stares out the window at the baby cygnet hatched last week swimming with its mama. "Great is the Lord!" feels her ears. Inhaling the raspberry aroma from the tea she smiles. Windows are opened to let in the sunshine. The call of the peacock draws her to the back window. Suddenly the day has promise not just tasks.

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."
~Philippians 4:8~

What's your mind dwelling on today?

For more thoughts on the Philippians passage, please join us at Nina's place. You will be blessed!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Marriage Monday--Our Wedding Story

1st Monday Every Month at Chrysalis
Want this button?

This month the topic at Marriage Monday is all about weddings, in honor of the month of June being "wedding month." You will find all kinds of touching, funny, sweet wedding stories at Chrysalis' site. Enjoy!

Settle in...this got long with the preamble. :-)

Our wedding story actually began before we were planning a wedding. I had for years wanted, should I ever get married, for the first act of worship my new husband and I would have as a married couple be to take communion together. Not a common practice in my Southern Baptist heritage, but very important to me nonetheless. As the Single's Minister in our church, I often attended the pastors' prayer meetings with all the pastors and youth pastors in our association. A few months before we were planning a wedding, the topic of weddings came up in the meeting. Communion became a hot topic. The Director of Missions emphatically stated that communion had NO part of a wedding ceremony and he would NEVER be a part of a wedding that had communion. I timidly said that I would have communion at my wedding. He told me "good luck." Of the 10 or so pastors there that morning, all but one agreed with him. The lone hold-out, bless him, said "when you get married, call me." I mentally put his number on speed dial.

Fast forward to wedding planning time. Remember, we chose to get married at Thanksgiving. Lots of people travel at Thanksgiving. Our pastor and friend was going to Oklahoma to be his parents for the holiday. Never fear! Our plan was to have a friend perform the wedding ceremony. Since he was not an ordained minister, we would actually "get married" the night before by a JoP and then have the blessing ceremony the next day. Our friend, liked the idea, but then decided it was not something he could do. So now we needed to find a minister! I, reluctantly, called the Director of Missions (DOM). He said he would love to, but his son was getting married the same day! I called Richard, the one who had said "call me", and he was going away for Thanksgiving. He suggested I call the DOM, and I said I had talked to him, but he was unavailable. Richard told me things had changed, so I called again and his son had postponed his wedding since his fiance was taking the BAR exam in November! Yay! We had a minister. Now to convince him about communion. When he understood what I wanted, and that my plan was not for the whole congregation to take communion, he agreed. Whew! Planning could start.

We wanted a simple wedding. We drove to Seattle to Pike's Market and stocked up on dried flowers. I arranged all the flowers in my Longaberger baskets to decorate the church. We would each have one attendant, my little "sister"/best friend in Spokane as my Maid of Honor and German's brother as his best man. Groom, best man and bride's father would wear tuxes. Bride's father was even allowed to wear his cowboy boots with his tux. Maid of Honor was to wear a evergreen dress of her choice, not long, that she would wear again. My bouquet would be a simple spray of daisies. Nothing frilly about this wedding. The ushers were given cummerbunds and bow ties to wear with whatever suit they owned. We wanted simple. The reception would be a dessert reception immediately following the wedding in the downstairs hall.

My dress was the only big purchase we made. My great-great grandfather gave his daughter a gold brooch on her wedding day. My great grandmother, instead of leaving it to one person, asked that every bride in the family use the brooch. Of my Mom's generation, all the female cousins except one carried the brooch on their Bible. The one had her dress designed with a high collar to wear the brooch. I desperately wanted to wear the brooch, so searched for a dress that would allow it. I was able to put the brooch on a chain and wear it. It was my something old. Something borrowed was my hat, that my aunt had designed for my cousin's wedding. Something blue was my garter. Something new was the dress.

Plans were made. We were all set.

Wedding day arrived. I went to the hairdresser to get ready. German and his brother the park. Here they are. Notice the time? The wedding starts at one!

Wedding time arrived. German's aunt and uncle who I had never met arrived from Tucson (they flew up to Spokane for the day). Guests assembled. Everyone was seated. Dad and I got to the door of the sanctuary and I said, "oh no...the communion table!" I had forgotten to take the bread and juice which were set under the table out! Dad said, "can't fix it, keep smiling!" And we walked down the aisle. DOM, notices the table as they walk out and says to best man "fix it!" I love my brother-in-law, but there is something you should know. He is not a Christian; in fact, he had only been in a church a couple of times before this. He knows nothing about communion! He said that all he knew was you ate something and drank something. He ran down to the kitchen, got a cup of orange juice and some potato chips, ran back up the stairs poured the juice in the communion cup and went to hide the other cup under the table where he saw the bread. Tossed the chips under the table and put the bread on the plate and ran to his place. In the meantime, DOM is praying the loooongessst prayer in the history of weddings. Best man in place, amen is said, wedding begins. German is totally oblivious. Had no idea.

The rest of the wedding went perfectly. Vows were said. Dear friend sings Steven Curtis Chapman and Geoff Moore's "Listen to Our Hearts" (heard here) which remains one of my favorite worship songs. He later sings another song while we take a silent communion--DOM hands bread to German who eats a bite and feeds a bite to me. Then we share the common cup. (I so wish I had a picture of German's face as he tasted orange instead of grape juice!). Prayers are said. Declarations made. And we leave as husband and wife.

After we signed the marriage certificate, we took this picture. It is my favorite because you can see the orange juice!

We left the next day for 8 days in Germany. By the time we got back, the DOM had told every pastor in the association the story of communion with potato chips and orange juice. I believe it still gets used as a sermon illustration that it is not the elements, but the attitude, that matters. But he now means it when he says he will NEVER have a wedding with communion. lol

I apologize for the quality of the pictures...they did not scan well.