Tuesday, October 31, 2006

If this doesn't scare you . . .

Didn't know how my dog would take to me dressing him up so I decided to dress up like my dog! He still looks less than thrilled - go figure.

Check out Kailani's Halloween contest at Pink Diary, and there are prizes! You can cast your votes for this entry via comments, or head on over to Kailani's site and check out this post for lots more entries for your viewing and voting pleasure.

Monday, October 30, 2006

God Loves Me

Pretty simple concept, huh? I mean, haven't I known this since I was a young girl singing "Jesus Loves Me"? Yet I think what I've always known is "God so loved the world." That he love his entire creation so much that he sent his Son to die for us. To be honest, I haven't thought much about the fact that he loves me. I've been too busy trying to ensure my own worthiness of his love. Or something like that. Quite unsuccessfully I might add.

It's funny. We hear the same truth from both God's word and that old deceiver, Satan: "we are not worthy." But whereas Satan seeks to beat us down with that ugly truth, God simply steps in and solves the problem. He makes us worthy. The amazing thing is, nothing I do takes him by surprise, makes him regret his "before the foundation of the world" decision, or is beyond the scope of his love.

I think Paul explains it best in Romans: You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly . . . But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6,8)

We may not always feel loveable, but we are always loved. Period.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Book Review: Straight Up

Nothing beats a new Lisa Samson release for a good excuse to curl up on a cold, wet Saturday and do absolutely nothing but read your heart out. Emphasis on heart. Meet Georgia Bishop, a talented musician, and her uptight cousin Fairly, as they reunite with their only living relative, Uncle Geoffrey, and face some truths about their pasts.

Lisa Samson has once again created real characters living real lives. The picture isn't always pretty, but God can make beautiful things of the ugliest situations. Straight Up does not disappoint.

Friday, October 27, 2006


Whole wheat bread is all I'm buying; it's better for you than that junky white bread.

If you want pop, you buy it.

You're not putting that thing together in here! Not in my livingroom!

We don't need that!

Where'd the money go I gave you yesterday?

What happened to these pants? You go through more clothes!

You may recognize the above as "momisms" - those familiar things all moms say on a regular basis. The only thing is, those statements weren't momisms! Those were "wife-isms", cleverly created by yours truly. The scary thing - we don't even have kids! What was I thinking? I was so sure of myself as I flung those statements at my husband, never realizing the daggerlike effect they had on him. But I'm sure I read somewhere "train up a husband in the way he should go . . . "

Thank goodness, somewhere along the way, God allowed me to hear myself. Ouch. My marriage vows came back to mind. “To love and to cherish, to have and to hold;” not “to mind and to train, to boss and to scold.” Oops.

This doesn’t mean I never speak my mind to my husband. But over the past few years, God has helped me think about not just what I say, but how I say it. Sure, it might not be a good idea to put a lawnmower together in the livingroom, and it’s to both our benefit if his pants last more than a month. Here are some things I try to keep in mind:

1) Questions go over better than imperative statements (i.e. commands). “Do you want some old clothes to take with you if you’re cutting wood after work?”

2) “We” is more fair than “you.” “How much cash do we have on hand?” sounds like less of an attack than “what happened to the money I gave you?”

3) How would I like to be spoken to? Better yet, is this how I would speak to my co-workers or my boss?

I still catch myself with “momisms” on the tip of my tongue from time to time, but hopefully my husband today feels I treat him more like a cherished spouse than a disobedient child.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

But What About Moses?

So I'm on this personality kick. Blame it on Jennifer for this post. It's not a bad thing though. It seems like at the same time I was reading Cure for the Common Life by Max Lucado, several other posts and thoughts on the topic came my way. Hmmm, could this be something God wants me to think about?

Besides finding the personality studies absolutely fascinating, personally they have made Psalm 139 come alive for me. I've always loved that Psalm, even memorized it in its entirety one year with my Pioneer girls. However, I think I've focused on verses 23-24 a lot: Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting, and skipped over verses 14-16:  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

But as I've read and thought about this topic, the biblical example of Moses came to mind. Certainly here was a man who, when tasked by God with the responsibility for leading the Israelites out of Egypt, did not immediately acknowledge his unique personality and abilities as the perfect preparation for such a large undertaking. I think his response was more like, "Excuse me, God, I can't even communicate with my wife. How am I going to talk to Pharoah and millions of my Jewish brothers?"

So I'm just throwing this out there. It's something I've been mulling over in my mind but I'd like your thoughts as well. Does God always call us to do what he's equipped us to do? Where's the balance between our God-given abilities and the places in which we find ourselves absolutely inadequate?

Thank you for your prayers!

I had an update from my friend I wanted to share with you all. (Most of this is directly from her email, a bit condensed).

Plan A was to do a procedure on the intestine they thought would take at least 8 hours, but doubted they'd be able to do. Plan B  was to disconnect the intestine and give Johnny a bag. When the doctors opened him up, they found one portion of the intestine very bad; the doctor had felt it was questionable during surgery when he was three days old but thought it might regenerate itself. Well that portion was the problem. He removed that portion (which was much smaller than he thought it would be) and felt that the rest of Johnny's intestines (though maybe small in quantity) looked very healthy - - - - soooooooooo --------- away with Plan B and onto Plan C.  They reconnected the intestines that were left in the hopes that this will get him back on track.  He was in surgery and recovery for a total of about 5 hours and is in quite a bit of pain.  This was a major surgery and he again has to be restrained - - adding insult to injury. His mom is not allowed to hold him right now due to the surgery.

He will be in the hospital for at least a couple of weeks and then have to have his line replaced.  God certainly works in wondrous ways - - who'd of thought there'd be a Plan C.  If all goes well during his recovery with a bit of time he may be back to progressing much as he was before all these problems hit.  God is certainly good.  Who knows what the future will bring, but once again God has shown us that he is in control!  Thank you so much for all your prayers - -- they continue to make such a difference.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Please pray today . . .

My neighbor's 19 mo. old grandson is having surgery today. He was born without enough intestines, causing all kinds of complications and will eventually require a transplant of small intestines and possibly a liver. He was doing better than expected for a while, enough to move him down the transplant list, but recently has been dealing with more complications, including a very severe infection, the result of his intestinal problems. My neighbors are godly Christians and the parents have seen firsthand the results of prayers and God working over these last months. The mom has been at the hospital around the clock lately, just holding the little guy in her arms.

Please keep this little family in your prayers today.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Gimme Some Space!

Are you the kind of person who needs their space? I chuckled yesterday as I escaped from work for a precious 30 minutes in search of some peace and quiet. My chosen space? The cushy couch in front of the gas fireplace at Caribou Coffee. I've been reading Pride & Prejudice with great enjoyment as often as I can get away from work for a bit. There's something relaxing reading about people whose greatest worry in life was whether they'd be invited to the neighbor's soiree.

Yesterday I read this passage, where Mr. Bennett (the father) was entertaining a rather obnoxious relative.

" . . . and Mr. Collins was to attend them, at the request of Mr. Bennett, who was most anxious to get rid of him and have his library to himself, for thither Mr. Collins had followed him after breakfast, and there he would continue . . . talking with Mr. Bennett, with little cessation, of his house and garden at Hunsford. Such doings discomposed Mr. Bennett exceedingly. In his library he had always been sure of leisure and tranquility, and though prepared, as he told Elizabeth, to meet with folly and conceit in every other room in the house, he was used to be free from them there [in the library]." Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen (1813). Great Reads Edition, pg. 72.

Sounds like a guy who not only needed his space but needed his particular space. Here's a shot of my space. I guess my spaces are rather seasonal. During the spring and fall, you can usually find me curled up in my blue chair. As soon as it gets a mite chilly, I head for the reclining sofa in front of the fireplace in our gameroom. Now that our back porch is opened up, I'm sure I'll be spending many summer mornings and evenings out there. As far as what I do in my space, it's a bit of everything. It's where I sit with my planner (when I get around to that). It's where I read my Bible before work in the morning. It's where I read mostly, and it's where I"m blogging from right now.

So I'm wondering, do you have a space? Where is it? What does it look like? Is it somewhere in your home or somewhere outdoors? Do you have more than one space, such as a summer space or winter space? Moreover, what do you do in your space? Is it just your devotional place, or is it your reading-writing-thinking-praying spot? Care to share a peek or some thoughts on your space? If you want to share on your blog, just leave a comment with your thoughts and I'll pop over to see. (Sorry - no Mr. Linky; I'm too afraid of messing with my template right now).

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Don't Go There!

I have been following with interest the discussion at Blest with Sons regarding our thought life. One thing I am learning is that there are certain areas I have to tell myself, "Don't go there." Meaning, right now if I "go there," I'm going to go down a road of negative thinking that I am not prepared to handle. This may be something as innocuous as a real estate website or homes catalog. How so, you ask? Well, if my house is in it's typical looking-like-a-tornado-hit-it mode and I'm feeling like it's closing in on me, surfing the real estate website that night will only serve to further contribute to that closed-in feeling. Likewise, if I'm feeling overwhelmed at work, it's probably not a good day to be searching the want ads for another job. That's because doing do would tend to open up a whole can of worms about my career capabilities.
That's not to say I avoid dealing with issues or act like they don't exist. I certainly do enjoy dreaming about a new house and I do plan to get into a different career at some point. It's just that I've started to recognize that allowing myself to think about whatever, whenever, will almost certainly lead me down a wrong path. It's almost as if these thoughts are weighted, and thrown into the deep blue sea of my thought life, they are certain to sink to the bottom, dragging me with them.
That said, this reiterates to me the value of praise and worship. The practice of purposefully focusing on the never-changing attributes of God, and his marvelous love towards me seems to help counteract these negative thoughts by ensuring that there's not much room left for these thoughts to take hold and drag me down.
Isaiah 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.


Saturday, October 14, 2006

Simple Things

A few weeks ago I posted my birthday/anniversary wish list, mostly for my husband's sake. I have to say, so far he is coming through pretty good. Today he sent me an email saying we'll take a drive on Saturday if the weather warrants. It may seem silly but that's about my favorite thing to do on my birthday! Partly because when we're home, he's either got his nose in a book, studying for an upcoming test or working on a homework project. Or vegging in front of the TV (he's a self-proclaimed news junkie!) which he deserves full well after all the studying.

Anyways I really like when we just go for a drive. I don't care where it is. I even like getting lost. And I sleep better in his truck than about anywhere else, so there's always that bonus truck nap on the way home. I knew Mike was the one for me when he put up with my compulsive vehicle napping early on in our dating.

Speaking of getting lost though, tonight we found ourselves in our least favorite place (I'll give you a hint, it ends in "mart" and is "wall-to-wall" people). We started out looking for a wallet for Mike, since he lost his MAC card somewhere out of his old dilapidated one. You know how those trips go. You suddenly think of a hundred things you need (well we really were out of shampoo and a few other basics). Anyways, I have this little fear of getting lost, especially in big places like malls and super-center stores. So when he says "wait here a minute," I do just that. Isn't it usually husbands who lose their wives on shopping trips? Well, it's not that way here. I will wait ten - fifteen - twenty minutes in the same exact spot ,for fear of him not finding me. That happened twice tonight, while he went in search of a restroom and shopped for who knows what! At one point I decided a proper and fitting punishment for him losing me would be putting another item in the cart every five minutes I waited. I waited and waited and waited. Happy Birthday to me! Hehe!

Clarifying for Barb, yes, today's my b-day!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

News Flash: Callapidder Days Transforms Unfinished Work!

That's right, folks. The beautiful transformation you see here in front of you is a direct result of my dear friend Katrina of Callapidder Days who surprised me in August with an early birthday gift of a new blog design from Bluebird Blogs. And perfect timing too - Susie completed the masterpiece just in time for the big day (Saturday)!

I wish all of you had the privilege of having Katrina for a FIRL (friend in real life). We laugh because we have a rather odd relationship. See, we don't get to spend an awful lot of time together (even though we go to the same church, I work and she's a busy mom of two little boys) but we chat often via email. I was good friends with her family growing up and was tickled that Chad married such a nice girl.

Over the years, we've found that we have a lot in common, including our love of writing (or at least talking about it!) I love the colors in my new look because they remind me of the warm cozy feeling I have among my many friends in Bloggyland. But they especially make me thankful for a friend like Katrina with whom I just be myself. I hope I can be half as good a friend to her as she is to me! Thanks, K!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Cure for the Common Life (by Max Lucado)

I just finished Cure for the Common Life last week. This book is classic Max and I enjoyed every minute of it. Short summary: Max examines how, when our God--given gifts work in conjunction with our God-ordained purpose, we operate in our "sweet spot" - a place far too many of us have never been.

I'm glad I limited my Fall Reading Challenge list, as I'm not tempted to rush into another book but rather (for once) am lingering in the study guide questions provided at the end of the book.

Last night, these questions hit me in the face:
Who is the master of your house? and Do you view your work as a kingdom work? In the chapter related to these questions, Max explores the parable of the talents, and in particular, how the servant who hid his one talent viewed his master. When the master metes out his punishment, he repeats that servant's own words, with the exception of one phrase "thou art a hard man." Max notes that this phrase, although it was the servant's perception of his master, was untrue and therefore not accepted by the master.

This brought to mind my own job, and in particular, how I view my boss. My current boss was a personal friend before becoming a manager. I trust her integrity and feel like I'm working harder than I have in years, in order to make her look good and out of gratitude for the good leadership she provides our group. Quite a refreshing difference from a previous situation where the mere sight of an email from my manager could send me spiralling into a bad day and that was before I'd even read it. 'Nuff said.

After reading Max's book though, I thought about how I relate to God as the One I serve. I know that a proper response to his love and care for me is to serve him eagerly and with joy, not as a "hard taskmaster" but out of love and a desire to please him. I believe the key lies not in focusing on my work but on the Master.

I might have to buy this book if I plan to get through all the questions. Then again the name being "unfinished work," perhaps I should just renew it from the library for another three weeks! If you're seeking to clarify your God-given purpose or struggling with a less than desirable work situation, I highly recommend Cure for the Common Life.

You gotta read this!

In lieu of any brilliant or mind-boggling thoughts from yours truly, I invited you to check out this post by writer & photographer Bonnie who also has a column at Christian Women Online. Leave her a comment if it speaks to you. Don't worry about leaving me one!


Monday, October 09, 2006

Other People's Books

Well, they're not really other people's books now - they're mine, all mine! Yesterday morning, bright and early, I headed for the library sale of a neighboring community. I've been anticipating this sale for weeks; I even got up last Saturday to go before realizing it was still a week away. I was surprised to find a line of people yesterday at 9:00 am waiting for the doors to open. A good sign, indeed, except I hate crowds. And not many crowds are worse than the ones you encounter at a book sale! Experienced book-salers will unashamedly plant themselves in the aisle as they scan tables or shelves in search of that perfect buy or push past you to reach for that prize find. Yesterday was no exception. I only lasted about 30 minutes before I felt the crowd closing in around me.

Nevertheless, I managed to snatch up a few treasures before escaping in search of fresh air. Believe it or not, I have a lot of restraint when it comes to book sales. (Good thing, my husband says or it could be ugly!) I rarely buy fiction. I usually look first for old books. Books on writing are always a winner (hey, if you can't write 'em, read 'em!) I always check out the religious non-fiction section, and then scout around for a classic or two. It's not beyond me to pick up a gift or two at a book sale.

Anyways, here's what I came away with; not bad for $25, considering the three old books were $5, $3 and $3.

3 books for my nine year old niece:

  • Mandy (Julie Edwards)
  • Understood Betsy (Dorothy Canfield Fisher)
  • The Quilt Trilogy: A Stitch in Time (Ann Rinaldi)
For me:
  • Surprised by Joy (C.S. Lewis)
  • Quiet Moments for Working Women (Mary Welchel) (This one's going to work with me!)
  • Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind (Ann B. Ross)
  • Writing Down The Bones (Natalie Goldberg)
Also a couple old books:
  • Longfellow's Poems - no date noted
  • A Cricket on the Hearth - 1928 (anything old & Dickens works for me; this is the 2nd Christmas volume of his I own but I couldn't resist)
  • The Last of the Mohicans (1898)
For Gifts
  • Quilting by Machine (you're welcome, Mom!)
  • Heartfelt Sampler (a little daily calendar of quotes and verses)

Friday, October 06, 2006

Word Association

I used to love word association games when I was a kid, and also when I taught school. Jennifer at Snapshot has tagged me for this meme, which is great because my blogging brain is in a state of drought right now.

Grace - For some reason, Max Lucado comes to mind. Didn't he write a book on the subject? Ah yes, a quick check at Amazon.com reveals not one but two books on the subject. In the Grip of Grace contain's Max's unique approach to the book of Romans. Some friends and I read this together a few years ago for a Bible study. I don't think I ever noticed the subtitle before tonight: Your Father Always Caught You. He Still Does. Wow, isn't that a powerful thought? He also wrote Grace for the Moment, which I might have to check out as soon as I'm finished with Cure for the Common Life, which is proving to be a most excellent read.

Brother - My sister and I always wished for a brother. Even in our twenties, we thought my mom should have another baby and of course, we'd hope for a little brother. Well, we never got our little brother but my sister is having fun with three of the cutest little boys you ever saw. I think though, that we always wished for a big brother! You know, someone to beat up the kids who picked on us, etc.!

- Before you know it, it will be snowing and we'll be putting our wood stove to good use once again. I can't wait for cozy nights on the reclining sofa in front of the fire!

I'm horrible at tagging but how about Barb and Jeanine? And your words are: crochet, photographic and library. Go to it, girls!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Holiday Cooking, Blogger Style: Nut Rolls

Overwhelmed with Joy
is graciously inviting us to "gather" at her place and share our best holiday recipes. I think this is a great idea and am looking forward to trying out some tried and true recipes from my friends in Bloggyland.

This is one of my favorites, and I must admit, I take some pride in having mastered this recipe. See, I remember my gram always in search for the perfect nut roll recipe. Either the dough wasn't to her liking or the filling left something to be desired. Her old cookbook is filled with cuttings and scraps of recipes. Of course, we (except for my allergic-to-nuts sister) willingly tried them all but I never managed to learn which she considered "the one." Several years ago, a co-worker brought in some nut roll his mother made and I shamelessly begged the recipe from him. So here it is, compliments of my friend Nick, and as good as any Gram ever made.

Nut mixture: Combine 1-1/2 lbs. ground walnuts, 2 cups sugar and 2 tablespoons melted butter. Add just enough hot milk to make a paste. Set aside.

2 envelopes yeast
1/2 cup warm milk
1/2 lb. butter, softened
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup sour cream
6 cups flour

Combine yeast with warm milk, allow to sit. Combine butter, salt, sugar, eggs and cream. Add part of the flour, then yeast/milk mixture. Mix in remaining flour. Blend well. Divide into 4 equal parts. One at a time, roll into 12x8 rectangle. Spread with nut mixture to within 3/4" of edges and roll up from long side, sealing edges with a bit of water and tucking ends under. Transfer to baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover lightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in warm (80 deg) oven for about an hour. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle tops with sugar if desired. Bake at 350 deg. for about 35-40 min.

For lots more great recipes, click on the graphic above.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

WFMW: Cooking Instructions

I'm a big fan of using canisters in my kitchen, partly for decoration and partly because it's more practical than keeping a lot of open boxes in my pantry. But I was forever forgetting simple things, like the Bisquick biscuit recipe or how to cook rice. I finally started cutting out the directions and either taping them to the lid or tossing them in the bottom of the canister (I often put the contents into a ziploc bag before putting them in the canister). It works for me.

For lots more clever ideas, check out Shannon's post today at Rock's in My Dryer.

Oh Look - A Meme!

Katrina tagged me for this meme that Jules at Everyday Mommy started and it's a different kind of meme - a bit more contemplative than miscellaneous. I had fun trying to pick a favorite memory for each, since my mom saw to it that we made plenty of memories!

1. Favorite memory of your mother? This was the hardest. I had to leave it and come back to it. I'd have to say it was when I was in college and she'd come to visit me and we'd go off and do fun things. One time she surprised me with a pizza party for my birthday at this really cool pizza place. That was a feat because it was quite difficult to get a pass to go off-campus and she somehow arranged to get a bunch of my friends there!

2. Favorite memory of your father? Once while I was in college, I came home to surprise my dad for his birthday. That morning, I hid in a large box which was wrapped like a gift. I was in the kitchen, crouched and cramped in that box and you know how you kind of shake when you're stooped in an uncomfortable position? Well, I was shaking - first of all from stooping, then from excitement, and then I realized my dad was fishing for his pocket knife to open the package in his neat perfectionist way - yikes! And then I guess I was shaking because I was more claustrophobic than I realized. Anyways, the surprise was a big hit with my dad! I'll never forget how happy he was to see me - made me feel really special.

3. Favorite memory of your sibling(s)? Goodness, when as a toddler you look forward getting your very own baby sister, and then you share your growing up years with that one and only sibling, it's hard to pick one favorite memory. I think my favorite memories are of the years we shared an apartment together as schoolteachers. Even though she was younger than me, she was always the boss. She paid the bills (I contributed but she hit me up every month). She reminded me to get gas in my car and helped me find my keys when I lost them (conveniently about every other morning, as I hated driving and was usually out of gas anyways!) One time we got home late from a basketball game and somehow I managed to drop my keys down the elevator shaft. Now me with my laidback personality quickly figured that as long as sis had her keys so we could get to work in the morning, we were fine. I was tired (read: exhausted) and ready to head to bed. SHE (the motherly one) on the other hand insisted that we retrieve the keys that night! Unbelievable, but we (I) (the clever one) wired several coat hangers end to end and fished the wayward keys from the dungeon below. Other goofy things happened there like seeing some of the tenants wearing some of the things we put out for the trash. We were always giggling in hushed tones there for one reason or another!

4. What one skill would you like to wake up tomorrow and be able to do (though you'd never learned it)? I'd like to wake up tomorrow and be a computer graphics art guru!

5. Which one of your dreams has come true? Well, this has to be getting married since at one point I convinced myself that I was destined for singlehood.

Just for fun, I'm tagging Stacy, my mom, and Cindy.