Saturday, May 31, 2008

Don't forget to look up

The church hiking trip, organized by our small group, was today! There were big storms that moved through the area last night--luckily it was last night instead of this morning, as they originally predicted.

What it did mean was that there was no electricity. This wouldn't have impacted us, in a no-utilities picnic shelter, but it did mean they couldn't run the cash register, so our admission was free :)

It also meant there were trees over some parts of the trails, other parts of the trails were under water, and some normally "trickle" streams were raging rivers. The guys at the gate actually told us to not hike, since they hadn't surveyed the trails at all yet. We did hang out, play frisbee and football and play on the playground for an hour or so. Henry and Dan discovered "quicksand" on the playground--the sand was so wet that they sunk a good three inches down because the sand was so wet! But eventually we hit the trails.

Henry had an absolute BALL. He was totally loving it. We started with two of the higher (and more moderate) trails, and then we went for one of the "Moderate/Rugged" ones (partially chosen by Henry). They weren't kidding about the rugged ones--climbing up a mini-stream bed, through mud, over slippery rocks and up ladders. Dan chaperoned Harmony--I was very thankful for that, and as he struggled to carry her through a particularly rough spot, all I could see was Jesus carrying us. Cool mental picture (no way could I get a real one!)

At one point, waiting for someone to figure out how they were going to navigate another rough spot, I took a minute to look up and back. It was gorgeous--but I had completely missed it. I was too busy watching each step, trying to stay safe, semi-dry and upright. It was a good reminder to "look up" and see the bigger context of what God's doing around me, even when I'm slugging through something challenging.

All in all it was a great trip--the planning worked out well, we got to know some people and families better, and got some good exercise.

Thanks, Lord, for the beauty of your creation and for the reminder to look up and see what you're doing around me, not just focus on my personal steps.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Things I learned in a committee meeting...about parenting

Today I had a marathon (9-3) committee meeting. We were working on letters of recommendation for students planning to attend medical school/dental school/vet school. The way it works is students ask 4-6 professors for recommendations, which go to the committee. The committee then drafts a "super reference" that identifies themes and uses quotes from the individual references, to give the school a more comprehensive view in a single letter.

What was interesting (and somewhat sad) was how many times we talked about parents. So here's what I learned (mostly what NOT to do)....
1) If you're going to get divorced, don't wait for the kids to go to college. It'll still be traumatic, and it might actually be harder on the kids. It definitely is on their school performance.

2) Make sure you still spend time with your spouse, even when you're busy with kids. The kids will move out, and you still want to know that person sleeping beside you when they go. (This is to avoid #1).

3) Love the child you have, not the child you want. If your child loves art and music, don't force them to try to be a doctor.

Corollary to #3: Encourage your child to do what God has gifted them in and called them to do, not what will support a family (or a fancy car).

4) Don't be a helicopter parent. The pre-health advisor shouldn't know you better than your child.

Corollary a: Let your child make their own decisions, within reason.
Corollary b: Let your child deal with the consequences of their action.
Corollary c: Do this over the 18 years you have them so the learning curve isn't too steep when they finally start having opportunities to be responsible.

God, help us make wise decisions about raising our children. Help us give them strong, deep roots in You, yet wings to soar where you want them to go and be who you want them to be.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Henry reading Hop on Pop

This was the first time he'd ever seen the book. For some reason the audio is really soft, so you'll have to turn it up!

Works for me Wednesday--cheap microwave popcorn

Microwave popcorn is pricy--even on sale the cheapest I've seen is $1/3. The bag of popcorn is much cheaper, but I get weary of washing the pan (er, Patrick gets weary of it--he's the dishwasher in the house!)

The answer: homemade microwave popcorn!

Place ~1/4 cup popcorn in a lunch size paper bag. (if you like, you can spray the popcorn with non-stick spray first--I haven't noticed a difference in performance). Fold the top over 1/2 inch, three times. Place bag in microwave; turn on popcorn setting (or 5 minutes, if you don't have a popcorn setting). Stay close; when the pops slow down to one every couple of seconds, turn it off.

If you want, you can eat it straight out of the bag--no dirty dishes at all!

For more Works for Me, visit Rocks in my Dryer...

Monday, May 26, 2008

Menu planning Monday

One thing I've learned from previous attempts at this is it's at best an estimate! Something ALWAYS comes up and scrambles the week's menu, whether it's being invited to someone's house or someone saying "but can we have____ instead?" So large grain of salt with this menu... It's mostly a "clean out the fridge" and pantry from good deals at Kroger in the last week (prices included where I know them)

L: Late lunch at SIL's
D: Leftovers at SIL's

Tuesday (Dance lessons):
L: Leftover pizza, watermelon ($3.88 for a whole one--we'll be eating it all week)
D: Spaghetti carbonara (1/2 pkg 10/$10 spaghetti, 1/2 pkg 10/$10 bacon, 2 eggs ($1.18/dozen), spinach salad

L: Grilled cheese, apple slices
D: Hamburgers ($1.47/lb), hash browns(10/$10 minus doubled $0.50 coupon=free!), corn on the cob (4/$1)

Thursday (Ann in meeting all day, life group shopping for hiking trip):
L: lunchables (10/$10), watermelon, carrots (10 lbs/$10), pudding (10 4 pks/$10)
D: Chic Fila with life group

L: ??? Something kid friendly (my kids + three?)??
D: ??? Something using up the diced ham?

Saturday (Hiking trip)
L: Sandwiches, apples, chips, cookies (I'll be making a batch of Monster Cookies sometime on Friday)
D: Probably out

Any suggestions on what to do with a cup of diced ham? I used some for omlettes one day, but there is a bunch left over and I need to use it soon!

For more ideas, check out Menu Planning Monday at Organizing Junkie!

Friday, May 23, 2008

From my friend Abby

My friend Abby from church is due any day now. Her mom died of cancer near Christmas time, and her sister has another, very aggressive cancer too. Here is a letter from Abby:

I wanted to share my sister's story and music with you all. Many of you have been praying for Katie already- thank you! I appreciate your support, encouragement, and prayers throughout the past couple of years.

My sister, Katie, has been dealing with a rare tumor and is undergoing chemo treatment right now. There is an organization that has been launched today, May 23rd (Katie's birthday) that is designed to help Katie share her music, her voice, and her story over the next year.

If you have a bit of time, please check out You will have a chance to hear her amazing music and her story.

Thank you for your support, friendship, and love.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Thankful Thursday

Tonight we discussed Phillipians 2: 12-13: Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

I'm so thankful that Jesus humbled himself to become a human and obeyed to the point of dying on a cross, and because of his example, we can be humble, obey, and have God work through us.

I'm thankful that God works both on our will and our actions--one without the other isn't effective, so it's great he gives us both!

I'm glad that God has a good purpose in what He does in and through our lives.

I'm thankful that our passports arrived quickly, as did our tax refund.

I'm thankful that everything went well in my 14 week check up, and that the nurse/midwife had some favorable things about the places I might have to switch to. I'm trusting God to either fix our insurance situation or provide a new doctor and hospital for me to deliver at.

I'm thankful for all the maternity clothes that friends have shared with me, and that I still fit into a couple of my own and some of DH's pants :)

I'm thankful for the great garden we planted, and what we can learn about God the Gardener through it.

I'm thankful for the awesome Spaghetti Carbonara recipe we discovered...and that bacon was on sale this week!

I'm thankful that I'm figuring out how to play the CVS game. Today I even made money (well, more CVS bucks than I put in) today :)

I'm thankful that I still could have afforded the trash bags, even without the CVS game. God has been more than generous to us!

And I'm thankful that Iris hosts Thankful Thursday! Please share your thanks, and read other's thanks at her blog.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Our new passports arrived today! We were worried about getting them before Patrick and I go to Mexico in the middle of June, but they got there in plenty of time.

I'm glad they returned my old one--it has my visa from my month long trip to Korea, as well as stamps from the seven countries I visited on my math May Seminar (definitely not the year I went!).

It made me think of Hebrews 11:13-16, especially verse 16: "Instead, they [the champions of the faith] were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them."

What spiritual country is your passport from? Is your home here, or are you longing for heaven?

Monday, May 19, 2008


On Saturday while Patrick and I were planting the garden, Henry was burying "treasure" in the yard. He discovered that some of the "jewels" we used in the Father's Day stepping stones had come loose, and combined with some change from his piggy bank, he was burying it, drawing a map and moving it. He kept looking for the perfect spot, but none of them quite fit his specifications. He moved it so many times, I'm not sure HE knows where he buried it. many of us are like him, moving our "treasure" from one worldly spot to another? Or have we invested them in heaven?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Dust bunnies and cobwebs

My kitchen isn't immaculate--there are often dirty dishes waiting to be done or a cookbook still sitting out. But it's relatively clean, at least enough to be healthy.

Or so I thought.

I was on a ladder in the kitchen today, and discovered a thick layer of dust and cobwebs over the top of the cabinets. Ew!

Guess perspective matters. I'm sure when God looks at my heart, he sees all the cobwebs and dust that got missed in my last housecleaning...

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

What kind of dog are you?

What dog breed are you? I'm a German Shepherd! Find out at

German Shepherd
The Perfectionist

Doggedly dedicated to getting the job done, you don't let silly little distractions get in the way of putting in a full day's work. And after you come home, chowing down on a little grub and taking a little catnap is all it takes to get you up and at 'em for round two, whatever that may entail. Your dogma emphasizes the importance of hard work, and you swim laps around your dog-paddling, time-wasting co-workers. Your cleverness leads to you often being entrusted with some pretty important tasks, which you are always more than happy to sink your canines into. You really dig being outdoors and love a bit of exercise, but you draw the line at the ridiculous stuff, choosing a game of beach volleyball over Pilates in the park any day.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

(Not quite) Wordless Wednesday

Plane tickets to San Diego...$800
Admission to the zoo...$118

A picture of the five of us...priceless!

The newest member of our family is due to arrive 11/11/08!

Proof that I finished the mini :)

I can't post the pics, but here are the links:
Crossing the finish line
After with the medal

Top Ten signs summer's almost here

10. School's out (at least colleges)
9. Strawberries are on sale
8. The strawberries in the yard are blooming and have green fruit
7. Patrick's allergies and asthma are acting up
6. The kids go to bed before the sun does
5. The sandbox is a fun place to be
4. Lots of digging and planting going on
3. Sunscreen is back to part of the morning routine
2. The ice cream maker is seeing action again
1. I saw the first mosquito of the season!

What's on your list this week?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Melodic Monday--Every Move I Make by Hillsong

This was the song my kids were singing, complete with hand motions, while waiting for their turn in the bounce house tonight...

Every move I make, I make in You
You make me move Jesus
Every breath I take, I breathe in You

Every step I take, I take in You
You are my way Jesus
Every breath I take, I breathe in You

Waves of mercy, waves of grace
Everywhere I look, I see your face
Your love has captured me
Oh my God, this love
How can it be?

la la la la la la
la la la la la la la la.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Today we did some planting in our modest (front yard) garden, and expanded it by a couple of feet (at the rate we're going, we soon won't have to mow!). I also re-seeded grass in some of our (very shady, somewhat wet) back yard.

Working in the garden always makes me think of the parable of the sower. Specifically it made me think about how I can prepare the "soil" around me to be more receptive.

For example, before planting any of the plants or seeds, I first pulled out all the weeds, hoed to make the soil not too compact. If I were a really diligent gardener, I'd test the pH and other properties of the soil, to figure out how to best nourish it. I put down some fertilizer (but not too much)and worked it in. Finally it was time for the seeds--not too many, not too few, spaced at just the right intervals. But we're still not done--you have to cover them with the right depth of soil, and give them some water. Then comes the ongoing process of watering (but not too much), fertilizing, and weeding. And eventually comes the fruit.

Evangelism is probably the same pattern. You watch for spring--when there is interest in new growth. You test the soil, learning more about your friend and how they might be most receptive. You weed (or help weed), and breathe some spirit filled air. The analogy helped me understand why tumultous and "compost filled" times are the times spiritual growth is often seen. Not every seed germinates, and that's part of the process.

And it's exactly that--a process. At the mini-marathon, there was a church handing out little cards about how we're all running the marathon of life, and here are the four steps to ensure you cross theright finish line. They were well done, but my thought was, "this is encouraging to me, but it isn't going to convert my brother." It was just a single seed, thrown on soil that is more concerned about how his knee is doing than God at that particular moment. But who knows--maybe one of the 35,000 people had been thinking spiritually related things as they were running, and it fell on fertile soil.

I guess that's why I appreciate the relational and developmental approach to evangelism our church takes--I don't think they even call it that. Sure, God does do radical things in people's lives and can go from seed to fruit overnight, but the relational model just makes it easier to prepare the soil and nurture the seed.

Thanks, Lord for the sowers, weeders, fertilizers and waterers in my life. Some of them weren't even Christians, and I pray that they find You soon. Help me to be a good spriritual gardener to those around me, whether they haven't yet heard the Good News or are growing in You.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

God is in the details!

This evening I went to the grocery store, and managed to resist the Oreos on the endcap. The sale price was only 23 cents cheaper than full price, and we don't *need* Oreos.

But guess what printed out in the coupons with my receipt?

A coupon for a free 18 oz package of Oreos!

Thanks God! Amazing how He blesses us, even at the grocery store!

For more (and more substantial) Thankful Thursdays, please visit Iris! I just couldn't resist focusing on one of the small ways God shows his favor--it's so easy for me to forget or overlook them :)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Top Ten things about classes being done!

10. No more grading!
9. No more meetings that go until 5:30
8. I don't have to *be* at school at 7:30
7. A more flexible schedule
6. Nice day = stay home with kids :)
5. A fresh slate--only in academia do you get to start over every 4 months
4. It'll be easier to eat out after church on Sunday (fewer students around)
3. No more footsteps overhead (we have an upstairs apt that we rent to students)
2. Fewer parties next door
1. Did I say no more grading?

What's on your top ten this week?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Menu Planning Monday...the Sunday night version

So I don't want to talk about how much we ate out this weekend :) Between catching planes and running the race (and recovering), cooking was low on the priority list. But I don't want to blow our entire food budget the first week of the month, so it's back to menu planning! So here it is:

L: Weekend left overs (pizza, Chinese), cantaloupe or pears (kids pick), chocolate milk
D: Spaghetti and meatballs, spinach salad with strawberries

Harmony dance lessons
L: MYO pizza lunchables, cottage cheese, apple, pear or cantaloupe,
D: Grilled cheese, strawberries, broccoli, and carrots, ice cream bars

Go to grocery store before dinner
L: Ham sandwiches, pudding, grapes, carrots
D: Rotisserie chicken (on sale at grocery store for $3.99), green beans, potatoes

Life group
L: Left over chicken sandwiches, milk, fruit and veggie
D: Hamburgers (from freezer), sweet potato fries (if I can find them), salad

L: Homemade pizza (if friends come over) or a picnic
D: Cumin lime pork tenderloin (from the freezer), corn, au gratin potatoes, salad, lilac sorbet

The interesting things are on Friday! Here are the recipes:

Cumin Lime Pork Tenderloin (from Rachel Ray 365)
2 lb pork tenderloin (I buy a whole pork tenderloin when they're on sale for $1.77 (like now) and have it cut into three roasts and the rest as pork chops)
1/4 c lime juice
2 T olive oil
2 T cumin
1 T coriander
2 cloves garlic, sliced

Preheat oven to 400 F. Place tenderloin on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. Rub in olive oil, then drizzle EVOO over the roast. Mix together the cumin and coriander, then season the roast with it (it will be heavy). Make small slits all over the top of the roast, and stick the garlic in the slits (make sure they're all the way in the roast else they'll burn). Roast for 45 minutes or until 140 F. Remove from the oven and let rest for a few minutes under an aluminum foil tent. Slice and serve!

Lilac Sorbet Very delicate--tastes like frozen spring! I make the flavored syrup and freeze it for later, so we can enjoy spring later in the year :)
1/2 c sugar
2 c water
1 c lilac blooms, rinsed and chopped

Mix together sugar and water in a pot; bring to boil to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to a simmer, and add lilac blooms. Let steep for 5 minutes. Cool thoroughly and strain blooms (if desired). Follow manufacturer's directions for freezing in an ice cream maker.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

We did it!

My brother Mark and I ran the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon this morning! We both did really well--he finished at the time we seeded ourselves at, 2 hrs 15 minutes, and I finished at 2 hrs 29 minutes (one minute faster than last year). I was happy I was close to last year, considering everything.

I learned lots from the Mini-Marathon last year. Those lessons were apparent this year too, but the bigger experience was running with Mark.

We were running together at a good pace, neither too fast nor too slow, for the first three miles. Then he stopped to use the restroom, saying "I'll catch up". By mile six (entering the Indy 500 racetrack), I still hadn't seen him. By then, I needed to use the restroom, so I used the ones on the track. I was afraid he'd pass me while I was in there, but there weren't a lot of options--if I waited for him to catch me, then either he'd have to wait for me, or I'd have to try to catch up--and I was pushing it as I was. So I went.

Meanwhile, he passed me. So I ended up spending 10 of 13 miles wondering where my brother was, instead of enjoying his company. I looked for him at the finish line, but didn't see him. I finally found him at the bag claim--I checked to make sure his bag was still there (which it was), and just waited until he came.

Two lessons: stick together...and somehow, our baggage reunites us. Interesting. I'll have to do the Biblical analysis later :)