Sunday, March 30, 2008

Henry overheard...

On Friday, Henry was singing his heart out in the bathroom, thinking no one could hear him. He was singing a long time favorite--the "towe-boy song" from when he wasn't even two. But here is his private version:

Oh give me a home,
Where the buffalo roam!
Where the deer and Andy's folks play!
Where I never hear
No bad words out here!
And it smells like Californ-I-A!!

Thanks for sharing the story, Jen!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Works for me Wednesday--Stickers and toddlers

For Children's church this week, I was in the toddler room. I brought stickers of the ressurection scene, and the kids were very excited! But stickers for little ones can be frustrating. One thing that helps is I peel the area around the stickers off. It's easier for little fingers to grab the stickers when there's not the other sticky paper all around the sticker they want.

So what Works for you? Share and see what others have to suggest at Rocks in My Dryer. Thanks for hosting, Shannon!

Monday, March 24, 2008

The NEW Footprints in the Sand...may you learn to dance

My aunt sent me this tonight. I don't usually forward e-mails, but I'll post it!

Imagine you and the Lord Jesus are walking down the road together. For much of the way, the Lord's footprints go along steadily, consistently, rarely varying the pace.
But your footprints are a disorganized stream of zigzags, starts, stops, turnarounds, circles, departures, and returns.
For much of the way, it seems to go like this, but gradually your footprints come more in line with the Lord's, soon paralleling, His consistently.
You and Jesus are walking as true friends!
This seems perfect, but then an interesting thing happens: Your footprints that once etched the sand next to Jesus' are now walking precisely in His steps.
Inside His larger footprints are your smaller ones, you and Jesus are becoming one.
This goes on for many miles, but gradually you notice another change. The footprints inside the large footprints seem to grow larger.
Eventually they disappear altogether. There is only one set of footprints. They have become one.
This goes on for a long time, but suddenly the second set of footprints is back. This time it seems even worse! Zigzags all over the place. Stops. Starts. Gashes in the sand. A variable mess of prints.
You are amazed and shocked.
Your dream ends. Now you pray: "Lord, I understand the first scene, with zigzags and fits. I was a new Christian; I was just learning. But You walked on through the storm and helped me learn to walk with You."
"That is correct."
"And when the smaller footprints were inside of Yours, I was actually learning to walk in Your steps, following You very closely."
"Very good.. You have understood everything so far."
When the smaller footprints grew and filled in Yours, I suppose that I was becoming like You in every way."
"So, Lord, was there a regression or something? The footprints separated, and this time it was worse than at first."
There is a pause as the Lord answers, with a smile in His voice.
"You didn't know? It was then that we danced!"

Melodic Monday--He's alive!

You have to imagine three adults and nine 1 and 2 year olds (decked out in their Easter finery) doing this song...

He (clap), He (clap), He (clap), He is alive (clap, 3 claps, 4 claps, 2 claps) (repeat)
I can see above the clouds And I can hear Him Call my name out loud (clap pattern at end of chorus)......
He has come that I might Have live, and more life Than I have had before (clap pattern at end of chorus).....

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Asian pork/beef recipe

Someone requested this in my Menu Planning Monday post, so here it is!

Asian Pork Tenderloin or Beef

1/2 c lite soy sauce
2 T sesame oil
1/3 c brown sugar
2 T Worchestershire sauce
2 T lemon juice
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 T dry mustard
1 1/2 t pepper
1 lb strip steak sliced thin, or 1 lb pork tenderloin, sliced into strips

Mix first eight ingredients together; marinate meat in mixture, 1 hr to overnight (sometimes I put it in the freezer for later use). Heat frying pan very hot with a little bit of spray oil; drain marinade from meat and save. Cook meat until browned, 2-3 minutes/side. Meanwhile, mix 2 t corn starch with a small amount of the marinade; put mixture into the rest of the marinade. Boil marinade until it thickens. Serve meat in lettuce leaves with a little of the thickened sauce, with brown rice and steamed stir fry veggies (from a frozen package) on the side.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Teaching about Easter

One of the ways we try to teach our kids about the real meaning of Easter is by making Resurrection Cookies. How are you making Easter, the holiest holiday for Christians, be about Jesus and not about a bunny? I'd love to hear your ideas!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Thankful Thursday

This week I'm thankful for:
--Imaginative play. My kids are too funny!
--"All things God works for the good of those who love him" (Romans 8:28)--how apparent this has been in the Women of the Bible study!
--Menu Planning Monday--it's so nice to have a plan, even if we don't always stick to it!
--Preparing for the Mini-marathon. Great God times while I train!
--Reading--I love snuggle time with books with the kids, and it has a whole new dimension now that Henry wants to read with and to us!
--Easter--what an amazing gift, that God would sacrifice his Son for us.
--Getting to go to the Women's retreat next week--it should be awesome!
--Neighbors with barking dogs moved. Yeah!
--Another job opportunity for Patrick, closer to home :)
--Not having to go through the tenure process again--though it's no fun being on the reviewing side either!
--Thankful Thursday To share your thanks or read others, please visit Iris--thanks for hosting, Iris!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Rachel: Beauty is only skin deep

Thanks again to Rachel Olsen for hosting the Women of the Bible series! Today's featured woman is another Rachel, and her sister, Leah. Rachel was beautiful, while Leah was "weak in the eyes". But watching the happenings of Genesis 30, you wonder who was beautiful to God...their rivalry and competition had to sadden God, and the long run consequences...well, one point of hope is that despite their ugliness, God used their competition and rivalry (which was passed to the next generation) to send Joseph to Egypt, to ensure the safety of the Israelites. But that's getting ahead of the story :)

The other thing I hadn't ever realized was that Jesus decended from Leah, not Rachel--although Benjamin and Joseph were the favored children, Jesus was from the tribe of Judah.

Top Ten Tuesday--my grocery list

Time is lacking these days...but see if you can find the hidden theme in this list :)

10. Milk
9. Eggs
8. Bread
7. Baby carrots
6. Peanut butter
5. saltines
4. Ginger ale
3. Ice cream
2. Pickles
1. Prego spaghetti sauce

Monday, March 17, 2008

Melodic Monday--It only takes a spark

This is my 300th post! Can you believe it?? More thoughts on this song after work...

Verse 1
It only takes a spark, to get a fire going.
And soon all those around, can warm up it it's glowing.

That's how it is with God's love, once you've experienced it, it's fresh like spring, you want to sing, you want to pass it on.

Verse 2
What a wondrous time is Spring
When all the trees are budding.
The birds begin to sing,
the flowers start their blooming.


Verse 3
I wish for you my friend
this happiness that I've found
You can depend on him
It matters not where your bound.

Last chorus:
I'll shout it from the mountain tops
I want the world to know
The Lord of Life has come to me
I want to pass it on.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Menu plan Monday

Ok, it's really Sunday, but if I wait until Monday it's too late. Two things I've learned are 1) if I don't have a plan by Monday morning, we're out of luck and 2) plan easy things on busy days (like Monday I have faculty meeting, Tuesday Harmony has dance, and Thursday we have life group). So here's the plan...any advice on cooking orange roughie or tilapia? Patrick and I either have left overs or the stash of Lean Cuisines I have in the freezer at work.

Sunday night--grilled cheese and tomato soup, grapes
Monday kids' lunch--left over French Toast and sausage, apple slices, yogurt
Monday night--gorganzola and roasted red pepper turkey burgers, green beans
Tuesday kids' lunch--MYO pizzas, milk, carrots and broccoli, mangoes
Tuesday night (Harmony has dance, Patrick gone)--Spaghetti and meatballs, salad
Wednesday lunch--ham sandwich, pickle for Henry, homemade cereal/chx mix, apple for Henry, peaches for Harmony
Wednesday dinner--Asian pork lettuce wraps, brown rice, Asian veggie mix
Thursday lunch--left overs or sandwiches, fruit, pudding
Thursday dinner (life group)--scrambled eggs, toast, turkey sausage, applesauce
Friday lunch--don't have to worry about--Jen feeds them :)
Friday dinner--something with the fish that's in our freezer that I don't know what to do with--google cooking, here we come!
Saturday lunch--Clean out the fridge :)
Saturday dinner--TBA :)
Sunday lunch--Easter dinner at MIL or SIL's house
Sunday dinner--Egg salad sandwiches

Friday, March 14, 2008

Kiddos brag :)

Henry tonight proved to me that he can, indeed, read. I was pretty sure that he can, considering the notes he's been writing by sounding out words (Hapy Birthday Papaw, I wish i kuld come to ur hose but Harmony has dans, Love Henry). But this morning he officially read a Clifford first reader to me (Clifford Can), and he read another one tonight. So there's a reader in the what do I do with him? He's not even in kindergarten yet!

Harmony is a cutie, that's for sure. Lately she's been talking about Leopard-cauns, and last night she asked if she could have an "apetite" before dinner. Too funny :) She's gotten quite tall, and people are surprised when we say yes, she's only three...let her enjoy her last month of three-dom!

Rebecca: I love you the purplest

If you're not playing along with the Women of the Bible discussion, I challenge you to check it out! I think Rebecca should have read the story "I love you the Purplest" by Barbara Joosse.

In the story, the mother goes fishing with her two, very differently gifted boys. As she tucks them in at the end of the day, they both ask her: Mama, who do you love the most? Mamma explains to exuberant Max that she loves him the reddest, and to thoughtful Julian that she loves him the bluest. Both boys fall asleep happy, confident in their mother's love.

It couldn't have been easy, raising twins away from her family, especially since they started fighting before they were even born. Yet a dose of "purple love" might have done the twins some good. I know they were born into a culture where the eldest got everything, but the long term effects of favoritism are so evident.

What I do love about this story (and ones that follow) is that God doesn't always choose who society chooses--he chooses the younger, booky, overlooked brother to bring forth the line of the Messiah.

Thanks, God, that you love us the purplest--you love each of us for exactly who you made us to be, and there is nothing we can do to earn more of Your love.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Thankful Thursday meets Women of the Bible

Rachel Olsen is guiding us through the women of the Bible, and today's feature is Sarah. Our children's church just finished learning about Abraham, Sarah and Issaac too, so it's a good time to be thankful for Sarah!

The verse that strikes me the most in Sarah's story is Genesis 21:1-2:

The Lord was gracious to Sarah, just as he had said he would be. He did for Sarah what he had promised to do.

I am so thankful that God is not only gracious when we doubt him, but that he keeps His word!

We've also been listening to a lot of Justin Robert's Why Not Sea Monsters, and my favorite song is about Abraham and Sarah:
Lord, Sarah is ninety years
And I'm no spring chicken either
And you know ther've been tons of tears
So please be gentle with your words
Cause when I see those stars you made
I can't help notice how they fall and fade...

Abraham, you must have faith
That your whole line won't be erased
And I know there've been many trials
And roads are dark for miles and miles
But just beyond your line of sight
This rumbled road is paved and bathed in light

I'm thankful that God knows the outcome of the story--that he knows what's around the bend and the trials we've been through. Even though we'd like the easy path, the rough road shows that it really is all due to Him, no work on our part.

I'm thankful that God is gentle and full of compassion, even when we're not.

I'm thankful that even when we doubt and laugh at his promises, He is faithful to complete them--he doesn't give up on us.

I'm thankful that God gives examples of how women have dealt with jealousy and the consequences of taking things into your own hands to force God's will in your timing, so that we can learn from the example and (hopefully) not repeat it.

I'm thankful for spring break and the rejuvenation it brought, and the opportunity to visit my mom and dad.

I'm thankful for our friends in Christ--that God can use us to serve each other even when we don't know about the other's need.

I'm thankful for the time change and for light in the evening--it's been great to play outside with the kids after school and in the evening!

And thanks to Iris for hosting Thankful Thursday and to Rachel for hosting the Women of the Bible study!

Wordless Wednesday--Four years ago

Henry at the Children's Museum--pre-Harmony! Time sure flies...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I AM--Set up for a show up

I started the I AM Bible study a long time ago. First, I was way behind round 1...then I was way ahead for Round 2. But round 2 stopped just as soon as it got to the lesson I was on! Tonight I decided to continue on, despite not being in a "group".

I'm on "Set up for a Show up." All I can say right now is wow.
It covers chapters 5-7 of Exodus. Basically, God knew things would get worse for the Egyptians before they got better--so that it would be obvious WHO it was that was saving them, and WHY they needed to be rescued (both now and from sin).

"It is when we're at rock bottom that God is most obvious." Too true! It isn't until I get to the end of myself that God even has a chance to show up--I'm too into "me" to turn to Him. Thankfully this last year is breaking me of that--guess it's my Exodus in a way!

On to the discussion questions...

1. On a scale of 1 to 10, rate yourself on how often your conversation is seasoned with the works of the Lord on your behalf? If you speak very little of Him, is there a reason you know of? If you speak often, how do people respond?

At work, a 2. At home and with friends, a 7. At work I try to let Christ show through my attitude and treatment of others instead of preaching with empty words--something that has created defensiveness towards anything sounding Christian, unfortunately. When it comes up naturally, I talk about it--but I don't push it.

2. Have you experienced a Set Up for a Show Up when you were uncertain whether the situation was the chastisement of the Lord or a temptation of Satan?

Yup--read all the miscarriage posts.

3. Have you ever or are you now experiencing any Job trials where you can still not identify any wrong-doing on your part?

You know, I really think I've exited Egypt--it's nice to be able to say that after a year. But only because I've had a ton of prayer from friends, people at church and in my Life Group--thanks, guys!

4. Apply this principle: How can my response make my God famous? Will obedience result in my sanctification and God's Glory?
You know, one of the first things I turned to when the miscarriage happened was Job. I wanted to be able to mourn like he did, yet do it without sinning. I don't know if I succeeded, but I tried--and I hope that in the process God got some fo the glory.

5. Does the origin of our affliction matter in view of the fame God can gain from it?

Nope--I think He can get the glory for everything if we have the correct approach. Not that I'm good at it, but I'm trying--I'm sure some days I'm very trying :)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Top Ten Tuesdays--Time to clean the car

You know it's time to clean the car...

10. The car's color is salt white.
9. The floor looks like someone dumped a sandbox in it.
8. The drinks in the cup holder are frozen.
7. there are mysterious things in Henry's cupholder
6. There isn't room for the groceries in the back, because it's too full of kid's school artwork.
5. All the gloves are in the car, not in the house.
4. There's a missing library book, and you're pretty sure it made it as far as the car.
3. You're scared to move Harmony's carseat, for fear of what you might find under it.
2. Henry holds up something unrecognizably petrified, and asks, "What's this, Mom?"
1. There is that funky "time to clean out the car" smell.

Must be spring! What's on your top ten list this week?

Melodic Monday--Dwell

Dwell in the midst of us
Come and dwell in this place
Dwell in the midst of us
Come and have Your way

Dwell in the midst of us
Wipe all the tears from our faces
Dwell in the midst of us
You can have Your way

Not our will, but Yours be done
Come and change us
Not our will, but Yours be done
Come sustain us

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Moroccan Chili with 10,000 grains of sand

This is a new favorite at our house! I've adapted it to be lower fat from Rachel Ray's Just In Time...

2 lbs ground turkey or beef
2 T chili powder
½ T ground cumin
½ T paprika
1 T ground coriander
1/3 t ground cinnamon
1 bay leaf
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 ¾ c chicken stock
4 dried figs, chopped
6 dried apricots, chopped
11/2 c couscous
3 to 4 T pine nuts, toasted
½ T dried mint

Brown meat until it’s not pink, 3-4 min. Season with the chili powder, cumin, paprika, coriander, and cinnamon. Add the bay leaf, onions, bell pepper, and garlic to the pan and cook until the onions are soft, about 8 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest, Worcestershire, and tomato sauce, and reduce the heat to a simmer.

In a pot with a tight fitting lid, combine the stock and dried fruit and bring to a boil. Add the couscous, stir, the turn off heat and cover. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add the nuts, herbs and lemon juice and fluff with a fork.

Remove the bay leaf from the chili and discard. Ladle the chili into shallow bowls and top with a small mound of couscous “sand”. Serve with pita bread.

Friday, March 7, 2008

First Place

I'm still in awe of Abraham's ability to TOTALLY place God as his highest priority. Obeying a command that goes counter to what God had already promised him--wow. That is definitely faith.

So is God really first in my life? I'm not sure I could take my son on a two day journey up the mountain, knowing that I'd have to sacrifice him at the top, let alone put him on the altar. And I haven't even been promised ancestors through him like Abraham was!

Lord, help me really put you first in my life.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Thankful Thursday--faith in action

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for....By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death....These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised."

Hebrews 11:1-2, 17-19, 39
This week I'm thankful for:
River Vineyard Church and it's mission. Tony has been doing an awesome sermon series based on it--to experience and extend the life, love, healing and hope of Jesus Christ. Two things that stuck with me from this last week are "Faith is spelled R-I-S-K" and "The seven hardest words to say--"Can I pray with you right now?"

Abraham's story. He moved from not really trusting God (trying to pass Sarah off as his sister) to trying to fulfill God's promises through human means (God, you promised me ancestors but aren't delivering, so we'll take things into our own hands and have Ishmael) to not only believing that God would fulfill His promises but also living them out--in being willing to offer his only son as a sacrifice, even though it didn't make any sense in the context of the promise he had been given. I'm thankful for that model of faith--that even when it all doesn't make sense, that God is working and doing things in his way.

Henry and Harmony's preschool/daycare and the teachers there. They really love the kids, and really model kind interactions.

And thanks to Iris for hosting Thankful Thursday, and for all of your thankful hearts! Please visit her and share your thanks...and read everyone else's. It's amazing to see how God is working.

Yadsendew em rof skrow

If the title stumped you (it sure was hard to type!), it's ok! This week is "Works for Me Wednesday" in reverse--you post a problem, and see if anyone can solve it for you, or at least have suggestions!

Henry (age 5.5) rarely spends the entire night in his own bed. (He still has occasions of bedwetting, but this it's getting better, knock on wood...but the night wandering continues). This wouldn't be a problem, except I can't sleep when he's in bed with us--there isn't enough room, and it's hard for me to fall back asleep once I'm awake.

We've tried sticker/reward charts, new beds (they'd be bunk beds but we can't have him getting out of them at night!), talked about bigger kids that he admires staying in their own bed all night, praising him for staying in his own bed, punishing him for getting out of bed, and pretty much it's the same as it's been ever since we moved to NY and he was able to get out of bed on his own.


And if you're looking for an answer to a practical problem, try posting it at WFMW!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Melodic Monday Jeremy Camp-Let it Fade

Have you been walking on a surface that's uncertain?
Have you helped yourself to everything that's empty?
You can't live this way too long.
There's more than this, more than this.
Have you been standing on your own feet too long?
Have you been looking for a place where you belong?
You can rest, you will find rest.
You can rest, you will find rest.

Let this old life crumble, let it fade.
Let this new life offered be your saving grace.
Let this old life crumble, let it fade, let it fade.

Have you been holding on to what this world has offered?
Have you been giving in to all these masquerades?
It will be gone, forever gone.
It will be gone, it will be gone

Let this old life crumble, let it fade.
Let this new life offered be your saving grace.
Let this old life crumble, let it fade, let it fade.

Let it fade.

Are you carrying the weight too much?, are you running from the call?
Let it fade, Oh yeah.

You can rest, you will find rest.
You can rest you will find rest.

Let this old life crumble, let it fade.
Let this new life offered be your saving grace.
Let this old life crumble, let it fade, let it fade.

Let this old life crumble, let it fade.
Have you been standing on your own feet too long?
Have you been looking for a place where you belong?

Some days I think I live on another planet

It's spring break--woo hoo! Too bad I'm up to my eyeballs in grading and neglected the "break" part of spring break means getting to fully enjoy the weekends and a little more relaxed schedule.

Today I had the pleasure of watching a friend's three girls while she went to the doctor. This is when I had the realization that I live on a different planet.

Actually, probably two different planets.

When I got there, the three girls were calmly coloring pictures and listening to stories. Their mom left without a fuss, and we continued coloring, doing puzzles, listening to stories, and eating a snack until she returned.

It was so calm! Nothing compared to my two "Mom, play crashing cars into the walls with me! No, play princesses with ME!" No chasing around the house, no tattling (for the most part), no kidnapping of the princesses by the pirates...definitely a different planet. I think part of the difference is having testosterone around...Henry is 110% boy and it shows in his play style. He'll sit down and color, but it's usually a scary dinosaur or the latest, greatest space ship for a Star Wars character...and he'd much prefer something more active.

The other planetary difference was staying at home. I read people's blogs about their day, and it's hard not to get jealous of extended times with their kids, meeting friends at the mall for lunch and "control journals" to make sure all of their household tasks are getting done. I'm happy if lunch gets made in the morning and eaten at noon, and our laundry mountain is tackled on occasion :) On the other hand, I was itching to go do something--either working on a household task or going somewhere. Rare is the moment when I can just "be" with my kids--even when I make time to do it, there is usually a do to list a mile long spinning in my head.

It definitely makes the decision to not have summer students this summer so I can spend more time with the kids feel like the right one.

Lord, help me be content with my career. I know you've put me in it for a purpose and I see how you are using it, but some days I'd rather just be at home!

What do you leave out?

We've been using Danielle's Place for our Kid's Church curriculum. It's been perfect for us--it engages the kids in fun and creative ways, our oldest child until recently was 5 (most of the lessons are for preschool-grade 2), is easy to use, and is inexpensive ($50/YEAR!). We've been using it for a year and a half, and still have lots of lessons to do.

We're now making our way through the Old Testament. I was surprised that Danielle's Place didn't really have any lessons on Abraham or Issac, so we've been supplementing with resources from Mission Arlington. It doesn't have the same level of activities (like no craft templates), it's in the same spirit as Danielle's place--very active learning oriented and child appropriate.

This week's lesson was on the birth of Issac. To simplify things, we left out the part about Ishmael. Even though it explains a lot about why the world is the way it is today, it didn't seem appropriate to talk about it with 3 and 4 year olds.

When I was talking with my mom about ideas for the lesson (got any good games, Mom?), she said, "you're not going to talk about Abraham sacrificing Issac, are you?"

My first response was, "why not?" I thought about Revelation 22:18-19--I don't want to be guilty of adding to or taking away from the Bible (though this passage refers specifically to Revelation). I don't want to omit major ideas from the Bible just because they're not appealing.

And then I thought about it from a kid's perspective--it is pretty scary. I can see why Danielle's place doesn't have a lesson on it--even the Mission Arlington's preschool version is sanitized--the putting Issac on the altar is left out.

It is a hard lesson. How do we teach that God wants us to put Him first, above EVERYTHING--family, work, hobbies, even the things he's promised us--without scaring the kids?

It also made me think--are there portions of the Bible I "leave out" because they make me uncomfortable or are scary?

God, guide us in what is appropriate for us to teach our children...while teaching them the whole truth.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Getting it right

So there have been distinct times in my life that God puts me through similar experiences so that I *finally* learn the lesson He's got for me.

I think I'm going through that again. A grad school friend, who will be 40 in May, called this afternoon to tell me she's pregnant.

This continues the one pregnancy announcement a week pattern that's been happening since Jan 6...God definitely has a sense of humor, or He's definitely trying to show me something and I'm being slow in getting it.

Lord, show me what it is you're trying to teach me, so I can get out of this Groundhog's Day (the movie) pattern...