Thursday, March 27, 2014

March 27, 2013 Daybook Entry
Outside my window …. The sun is going down, the armadillo trap is re-baited with nasty, old shrimp shells, the daylily foliage is really popping up.  I love flowers that I can just throw in the flower bed willy-nilly, and they will come up anyway.  (I'm very good at killing plants)

I am thinking …. about a good friend's relationship with God.  Wondering what God is saying to her heart and how she will respond.  Wishing I knew more, sometimes glad I don't.

I am thankful for …. a godly mother-in-law who brings her extraordinary grandmothering skills around this time of year each year.  She loves spring in the South, and her only granddaughter's birthday, dark chocolate and chai tea lattes from the kitchen.  We are happy to oblige.  Here is a pic of a quilt she's making for her Asian-obsessed Kathryn.  Each little girl is unique and a little piece of Mom's imagination.  We love it!

In the kitchen... my oven sits sadly, quietly deceased.  I feel quite handicapped.  First, did you know that the surest way to kill your oven is to promise to bake something for a friend?  or your daughter? yep.  dead.  dead.  dead.  I received a phone call today promising the arrival of my new one in 8-10 days.  I am fearlessly entering the world of induction cooking.  Unless I blow up the house, I may write of my experience.

Around the house …. We are changing up some decor.  Going into a black, white, tan color scheme / vintage/french country/old Hollywood look in the master bath.  I'm loving it so far.  I am a super slow decorator, and highly incompetent.  If you have any ideas for this room pics below, I'm all ears (seriously!)  My plan is to paint the beadboard wallpaper (yes, that's wallpaper :o) glossy white and the cabinetry glossy black.  

The boldest look I've ever done in the house

En lieu of his/hers signs

French- love some french!

Beadboard wallpaper with added wood trim
Speaking of all ears (random thought alert) while doing some Spanish translation work this week, I discovered "wingchair" is "earchair" in Spanish. And this is what I thought of...  Turns out it's been invented already- by the Japanese.

I am loving …. the taste of homemade buttercream icing on Kathryn's (early) birthday cake tonight.  I bake yummy cakes and make yummy icing.  I am a terrible decorator, though, so the kids now decorate their own cakes.  Here's Kathryn's mosaic flower garden cake.  The plastic wrap was pulling off the candies, so I left the wrap on for the picture.  How is this child about to turn 9?!

I am hoping …. that this week's cold snap is the last of the season.  And yes, by cold snap, I realize that it was warmer than my three readers have seen for months.  Sorry.

I am sorely tempted by ….going to bed early.  Spring break is a beautiful thing. 

I am reading …. (don't laugh) Grace Livingston Hill.  I found a some of her books free in a book bin outside 2nd & Charles, and I just HAD to know if they are as cheesy as I remembered.  Yes.  Just that cheesy.  Yes.  So I read until I start laughing so hard I have to stop.  So far I think I've covered four pages in a week.
On my To Do list …. sew new curtains for dining room.  These 'shiver' in the a/c and scare passing children in the night- ahahahahaha (evil laugh).  Maybe I should leave them up and spare us the awkward child knocking on the door moments.  You know- when they (because they have recently learned interesting things both from homeschool science and more importantly, from amorous lemurs at the zoo) think you're "doing something" and you are.


Sunday, March 09, 2014

A Healthy Part of the Body of Christ

Couch to 5K.  Flab to fit.  There are plenty of programs and plans to help you become healthier in a few weeks time.  What might it look like if we 'worked' on becoming a healthier part of the body of Christ this month?  With that in mind, here are a few ideas I jotted down.  I will following this myself for the next month.  On this Lord's Day, let's focus on Him and how to build up His Body, the church.

Day 1:  Pray for yourself ~ ask for God to search your heart and see if there be any wicked way in you.  Repent of any revealed sin.  Your part of the body must be healthy spiritually if you want to be a part of a healthy local body.
Day 2:  Pray for the body’s head, your pastor ~ ask God to illuminate his time studying the Word, to encourage him as he works under the burden of leadership, to give him guidance for the body.
Day 3:  Pray for the pastor’s wife ~ ask God to bless her as she sets the emotional tone for the parsonage and bears the main responsibility of daily training any children still in the home. 
Day 4:  Pray for the music minister and musicians ~ ask God to guide them in making the best music decisions that will set the atmosphere for the Body to worship God each Sunday and that they will steward their musical gifts for His glory.
Day 5:  Contact two people in your local body who have been suffering physically.  Ask how you can pray for them and offer to help in a practical way.
Day 6:  Prepare your home, clothes, food and mind for the coming Sabbath.  Expect the devil to be resisting more than usual a calm, peaceful atmosphere in the home.  Limit unnecessary words and refuse to be sucked into family conflicts.
Day 7:  This is the Lord’s Day.  Pray for yourself ~ that you will be a blessing to your local body today.  Thank your pastor for his sermon. 
Day 8:  Pray for yourself ~ ask God to help you see ways that you can bless your local body through the skills you have.  Commit to finding a way to use your spiritual gifts to bless your church.
Day 9:  Pray for your pastor ~ ask God to protect him from sexual temptation and to bless his marriage and home.
Day 10:  Pray for the board ~ ask God to give them wisdom and unity of Spirit in helping the pastor guide the church.  Pray that none of them would allow pride or selfishness to pull them into power struggles.
Day 11:  Pray for the teachers of the children ~ pray that God will refresh them with new ideas, creativity, and endurance as they present the gospel to impressionable souls.
Day 12: Pray for the teachers of the adults ~ pray that they will have a love of the Word and be faithful to bring meat to the body and not settle for milk.
Day 13: Contact two people in the local body who were absent from the fellowship last week.  Tell them that you love them and look forward to seeing them tomorrow.  Prepare for the weekend attacks of the enemy by working ahead for the Sabbath responsibilities.
Day 14:  This is the Lord’s Day.  Pray for yourself ~ that you will be a blessing to your local body today.  Stay engaged in the service and at least nod your head when you agree with the pastor’s points.  Thank him for his sermon.
Day 15:  Pray for yourself ~ commit to thinking only things that meet the Philippians 4:8 guidelines today about your church and its members.  If negative thoughts come to mind, quote Phil. 4:8 instead and whisper a prayer for whomever entered your mind.
Day 16:  Pray for your pastor ~ pray for him to be filled with the Spirit as he goes about his week.  He is often called on to fill the pastoral role at all hours of the day and night, requiring him to be on his toes spiritually.  The devil is continuously hounding him in ways a layperson does not experience.  Pray for his protection.
Day 17:  Pray for the pastor’s children ~ the health of their relationships with God affects your pastor and his wife spiritually and emotionally, whether they are still at home or not.  Pray that God will give them a desire to serve Him and preserve them from bitterness against the church (a common pitfall).
Day 18:  Pray for the person who sits in front of you in church.  Pray for the person who sits behind you in church.  If you know their needs, mention them specifically to the Lord.  Make an action plan to encourage them this week – a card in the pew, a homemade goodie bag, a phone call – whatever ‘fits’ you and your skill set.
Day 19:  Pray for the youth of the church ~ that their enthusiasm and energy will be channeled by God in serving Him.  Pray that they would be protected from Satan’s attacks at school today.
Day 20:  Prepare yourself for the weekend attacks of the enemy.  Pray for the person in the church who makes you most uncomfortable.  Ask God to bless them.  Contact one person who has been out of fellowship for a while and ask them to join you at church tomorrow.
Day 21:  This is the Lord’s Day.  Pray for yourself ~ that you will build up the body today in all you say and do.  Mentally engage in worship today.  Really read the words of the songs from your heart.  Make a point of looking a child in the eye and making them feel important.
Day 22:  Pray for yourself ~  being a healthy member of the Body of Christ extends far beyond the walls of the church.  Ask for His help as you share the gospel and live in His power in your own family.  Smile at each of them today.
Day 23:  Pray for your pastor ~ contact him and ask what you can do for the church.  If you feel unsure of the best way you can be used, ask him to help you pray that God will show both of you the best way you can build up the church. 
Day 24:  Pray for the people who sat in your pew last Sunday.  Pray that God will give each of them a desire to love and serve Him.  If they all live under your roof, give each of them a hug today.
Day 25:  Pray for the people who clean and maintain the church grounds.  This is often a thankless job.  Pray that they would do this ‘unto the Lord.’  If you know who does this, tell them thanks.  If not, find out.
Day 26:  Pray for the new converts in the church that God will bless and protect them as the seed of the Gospel grows in their hearts.  If you don’t have any new converts, pray for unsaved family and friends that need Jesus desperately.  Speak a word for God in public today.  Tell the cashier, “Have a blessed day” or answer “God’s been so good to me” when asked how you’re doing. 
Day 27:  Prepare for the weekend attacks by the devil.  Dwell on the privilege of the freedom to worship.  Get excited about tomorrow!  Make a special dessert for Sunday lunch.  Get ready to celebrate the best day of the week!
Day 28:  This is the Lord’s Day.  Play hymns in the car or pray on the way to church.  Talk about things God is doing for you with your family in the car.  Tell your kids stories of how God has worked in your life.  Give a little extra money in the offering.  Healthy bodies have expenses.  Thank God for your church!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sneak Peek!  (Whatcha think?)

We have been excited to hear that so many of you are enjoying Nathan's chronological Bible reading plan this year!  As you probably know, the NASB gave Nathan official permission to include their version on his website!  That is a favorite version for so many, and Nathan is gladly including it.  Along with adding that daily, we're working on something new for next year.  We've decided to offer a prayer for each day's reading, and I can say from helping Nathan in the development process that it takes the reading to a whole new level of comprehension and meditation.  I am personally learning so much.  So!  Here are some samples.  We would love to hear what you think...

January 9

January 15

January 17

Sunday, December 29, 2013

As the year comes to a close, give me a steaming cup of cocoa, a book of poetry, a flickering candle, and may the cares that 'infested' 2013, fold their tents and silently steal away (my favorite lines from the last stanza).  Can you hear them tiptoeing away?  God has been good this year, as always.  Looking forward to meeting his daily mercies every day of the new year...

The Day is Done

The day is done, and the darkness
Falls from the wings of Night,
As a feather is wafted downward
From an eagle in his flight.

I see the lights of the village
Gleam through the rain and the mist,
And a feeling of sadness comes o'er me
That my soul cannot resist:

A feeling of sadness and longing,
That is not akin to pain,
And resembles sorrow only
As the mist resembles the rain.

Come, read to me some poem,
Some simple and heartfelt lay,
That shall soothe this restless feeling,
And banish the thoughts of day.

Not from the grand old masters,
Not from the bards sublime,
Whose distant footsteps echo
Through the corridors of Time.

For, like strains of martial music,
Their mighty thoughts suggest
Life's endless toil and endeavor;
And to-night I long for rest.

Read from some humbler poet,
Whose songs gushed from his heart,
As showers from the clouds of summer,
Or tears from the eyelids start;

Who, through long days of labor,
And nights devoid of ease,
Still heard in his soul the music
Of wonderful melodies.

Such songs have power to quiet
The restless pulse of care,
And come like the benediction
That follows after prayer.

Then read from the treasured volume
The poem of thy choice,
And lend to the rhyme of the poet
The beauty of thy voice.

And the night shall be filled with music
And the cares, that infest the day,
Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs,
And as silently steal away.

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Hobbits Are Back!

My kids love books.  My kids love audio-books.  I think they may have the audio version of The Hobbit memorized by now.  Due to my admittedly stubborn preference for paper pages in binding, we read it aloud first.

To coincide with the theater release of Part Two of The Hobbit, our amazing local library staff created another great event for the kids.  They do large scale (at least they look large scale to me) events regularly, and every one I've attended with the kids has been a blast.  The invite said to 'dress the part,' so we did.  Alex and Kathryn got brand new hobbit cloaks from my reluctant sewing machine. 

*Sewing intimidates me, frankly.  It's the whole inside-out, 3-d construction thing- messes with my head.  Ask my poor sister (recipient of my first attempts), whose super-comfy jammies' crotch was soundly mid-knee.  Nathan's pockets were sewn shut, and his jammies turned into a long skirt.  I've improved a bit since then, and cloaks are decidedly 2-d in nature, so we pulled it off.  Please note the highly artistic furry feet (brown magic marker :o)  Please also note that Kathryn refused such nonsense, making her perhaps the most well-groomed Hobbitess ever.*

Activities included making it safely through the spider webs, making furry feet (not as easy as ours), creating one's own dragon breath fire blower, the troll toss and lots of food for "our supper and afternoon tea."  Note to library staff:  yes, it makes sense to tell the children they mustn't touch the spider web threads (so they won't just go barging through), but such a command has a strange effect on my (thankfully) obedient and (somewhat) OCD kids.  That will explain Alex's slow and strange contortions to get through (wish I had a video of that- haha!) and Kathryn's mid-web panic when she realized it wasn't ACTUALLY POSSIBLE to not touch any threads.  Just so you know... 

Here are some fun pics of the "Unexpected Gathering" which was obviously expected, so... never mind.


Wednesday, November 06, 2013

It's Fall!  Let's Cook!

"She moved from the window and walked quickly to the kitchen. She would do something that, if only for the briefest hour, had the power to solve everything, to offer certain and absolute consolation. She would cook."- Jan Karon

OK, so I don't think cooking will bring world peace or anything, but it sure is therapeutic to my own heart.  It's a quiet activity that gives me time to think, pray, praise, whatever.  As the days get shorter, I want just a few simple things- lamps lit, candle burning, beautifully calming music, a cup of great coffee, and the smell of cinnamon and nutmeg in the kitchen.  More than a few I guess, but the above combination does my heart good.

With that in mind, I thought I'd share a Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffin recipe with you that I've been using for years and is absolutely no-fail.  Kathryn requests these year round, so I make a batch once a month and throw them in the freezer.  They reheat beautifully and make for a yummy breakfast or bedtime snack.  And even though I'm not a 'food blogger,' I thought some pics might be fun.  

Wet Ingredients:  4 eggs, 1 can pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling), 1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce, 1/4 c. canola oil
Dry Ingredients:  2 1/2 c. self-rising flour, 2 c. sugar, 1/2 c. whole wheat flour, 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg 
1-2 c. chocolate chips
Makes:  24 muffins (well, today I got 26 muffins out of it ;o)  To imitate me exactly (and of course, get such wonderful results -haha!, see my notes below...)

Dump wet ingredients unceremoniously into one bowl, and mix with a fork.
Dump dry ingredients unceremoniously into second bowl (larger bowl is smart) and mix with a spoon.
Now you will have this...
Mix wet into dry, making sure to SCRAPE THE BOTTOM OF THE BOWL, or you WILL have a flour streak in a muffin, causing a child to weep over such a terrible discovery at the breakfast table. 
Note that it is still lumpy.  Don't mix the daylights out of it, or your muffins will not have very good texture.  Time for the good stuff...
Spray your muffin pan with nonstick spray and bake at 400 for 18-22 min or until toothpick comes out clean (19 mins. for my oven :o)
Take out and make child, mom, dog (if she gets a chance) very, very happy!  Continue reading below...
 For self-rising flour that will make a truly Southern product (I must belabor this point, TRULY SOUTHERN), one must use WHITE LILY FLOUR.  There is no acceptable substitute (otherwise known as a sob-stitute if I cannot find my beloved flour).

I use any and every brand of pumpkin (generic is just as good & and I suspect Aldi's brand to be better than Libby's), eggs, and applesauce.

I used Nestle's Semisweet Chocolate Chips in the big bag from Sam's.  Most cost effective.  

NICE expensive cinnamon is lovely, but I go with cheap.  I will confess, though, to being a nutmeg snob.  The extra zing from freshly grated nutmeg just makes my day (p.s. mace is the outer shell of a nutmeg.  I just grate a happy amount in, so it's officially mace and nutmeg :o)  I order a bag of them off Amazon. 

Whole wheat flour:  This batch was made with the best (see the grainy texture on the top of the finished product!)  That is true gorgeous-ness.  This batch was from Mingus Mill in the Gatlinburg area where I stumbled upon their water powered, stone-ground amazing flour.  I will be very sad when this bag runs out.  I store it in the freezer.  Check out this flour!

I spray my muffin tins with canola oil.  I got a Misto sprayer off Amazon ($10 or so) a while back and LOVE it.  Now just pure oil gets sprayed on my pans without the sticky residue.  I have two- one for olive and one for canola.  So much cheaper, too, as I  just refill it over and over.

One last tip:  clean your oven before doing a food post ;o)  Maybe I'll just look 'real' to all ye fellow moms?  One last, last tip:  Don't toss extra batter.  Pop it in, but put a little water in the empty cups to help the baking remain even.  

Friday, October 11, 2013

Dreams and Visions:  Is Jesus Awakening the Muslim World 
(A Book Review)
Five Stars!!!!!

On October 6, 2010, I put up a blogpost about the movie The Stoning of Soraya M.  Three years later, I just completed Tom Doyle's excellent book Dreams and Visions.  These two resources have totally changed my view of the Muslim world.  If you're looking for a fantastic book about how God is working in a mighty way, pick up Dreams and Visions.  It is an account of what may be termed the Muslim Great Awakening.  Along with gripping stories from all over the Middle East, Doyle also offers a good biblical reference frame for analyzing whether or not a dream or vision is actually from Christ.  What I picked up from the book is that Jesus is telling the Muslims "I love you" and "Follow me!"  And they are.  In droves.  By the millions.  I can't recommend this amazing book highly enough.  My only negative remark is that I kept find myself sneaking around the house to sit down with the book, reading while brushing my teeth, grabbing it up at every spare moment.  As another reviewer stated, get ready for a "splash of grace!"  God is amazing!!!!