Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Are You Afraid Of The Dark???

Are you afraid of the dark?

Not actual darkness, but a darkness of culture.  A darkness of morality.  A darkness of peace.

When a just starting Christian community in Syria asked a flourishing Christian community in Lebanon how they might grow their community and make it flourish, the leader of the Lebanon group jokingly responded:


A community of Christians spent fifteen years living in a land of war.  Out of war the people grew stronger in  their faith and convictions.  Our of war the believers arose strong, courageous, fearless.  Years of lack, years of danger, years of their daily lives being reduced to one thing--faith that God would provide for their needs and would take care of them in life, and if it be His will, death.


A generation of young men forced out of their homes, refugees in a different land, living in absolute hell and poverty.  And yet the images of the Lost Boys in the refugee camps is one of thousands of young men dancing and singing before the Lord, holding fast to their faith that God would sustain them.  A nation of Christians holding fast to their faith, trusting that God would see them through the conflict, that they would one day be able to return home and rebuild their country.

I am not afraid of the dark.  Because I know that it is in the darkness where God's light shines the brightest.  When life is difficult, when my comfort and security are stripped away, there is nothing left to cling to except my unchanging, immovable God.  In the good times, God is.  In the bad times, God is.  In times of peace, God is.  In times of war, God is.  In the light, God is.  In the dark, God is.  I am not afraid of the dark because God is the same God He has always been and will always be despite the circumstances of my life and the world around me.

I have nothing to fear.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Mommy, Why Don't We Adopt A Refugee From Africa?

Image Source

Today we started learning about Africa.  I read the nice happy stuff that was part of our curriculum.  But I wanted my children to understand more than that about their world.  I am currently reading a wonderful, horrible, amazing, heartbreaking book about one of the Lost Boys of Sudan.  I am reading God Grew Tired of Us: The Heartbreaking, Inspiring Story of a Lost Boy of Sudan by John Bul Dau.

I told my children about what life is like for a refugee.  First their village was attacked and most of the people were killed or taken as prisoners and sold into slavery or forced to join the army.  The lucky (?) few who escaped had to run barefoot through the swamps, desert, and forests always keeping one step ahead of the advancing army.  Always starving and thirsty.  After running many miles and facing hostile tribes along the way, they finally made it across the border into Ethiopia to a refugee camp.

While they may be safe from the war, life is not easy in a refugee camp.  They have little food, no sanitation, no homes, disease, few clothes if any.  Just thousands of other displaced boys, a few girls, a few grown ups. Finally they are safe and making a life for themselves in the refugee camp when Ethiopia experiences its own civil war.  Now they are on the run yet again fleeing the Ethiopian army.

They have to cross a crocodile infested river and witness many of their friends be eaten.  Many are shot by the army or drown.  Those who survive now have to walk over 500 miles through Sudan to reach Kenya where they hope to find refuge.

I mentioned our friends who took in three of the Sudanese refugees--two boys and one girl.  They are now grown up and have their own homes and families.  My kids have met them and played with the girl's son.  They knew they were clearly "adopted" as my friends are very white, but they never knew the story of their lives until now.

And then Lizzy turns to me and asks, "Mommy, why don't we adopt one of them?  We have room in our house."

Oh Lizzy.

Why don't we, indeed.

Her heart matches my heart.  I read about suffering like this and I want to immediately adopt every last child.  I had to put the book down yesterday because it was hurting my heart so badly to know that this sort of thing is going on right now.  I want to rescue them all.

"Lizzy, we can't adopt them all, probably not even one.  But we can pray for them.  We can sponsor a child and give them the ability to be fed, clothed, educated, and to receive medical care.  We can give to organizations and missionaries that serve in these areas.  We can buy livestock for poor families so they have milk or eggs to eat and sell.  There are things we can do to help, even just a little bit."

"Lets do that, mommy."

Friday, January 25, 2013

I Didn't Scream

This is how my friend and I caught mice when we were kids

In honor of my 52 Weeks of New project, I have a story to tell...

Once upon a time, there was a girl who woke up in the wee hours of the morning, got out of her warm bed, and stumbled blindly into the dark kitchen.  She turned the light on, went to open the pantry, and gasp!  Something bolted out of said pantry right in front of her feet.  She leaped onto a chair and stood there screaming like a little girl until her dashing husband hauled himself out of bed and came to save her.

She made said husband set out traps all over the kitchen and basement.  She tried to be a big girl about it.  Even though she knew it was silly, she just couldn't stop herself from being afraid to be the first one to enter her kitchen every morning.  She either waited until someone else, someone braver, went first, or stomped her way to the kitchen to scare all rodents away before she turned on the light.  She hated feeling paralyzed every time she had to go into the basement storage room to get something out of her stockpile pantry.  She tried to be brave, but with each new catch, a little piece of her security died until she was crying, afraid of her own house, and at the end of her ability to cope.  She called in the big guns--an exterminator.  It was either that or move.

He came in like a blazing fire.  He set out bait stations.  He set out traps.  He plugged up holes with steel wool.  After he was done, she never saw another squeeker again.

Until now.

She is three years older, hopefully three years wiser.  She found evidence of mice in her basement stockpile pantry.  She didn't run away this time.  She continued to cull her pantry for expired and donatable items even while her skin was crawling.  But she didn't scream or do the eeby-geeby dance.  She ordered her sick husband to set out the traps but he could only find two.  That's alright, she would go to the store and buy more.  She bought a four-pack, brought them home, baited them and set them out all by herself.  Yes, all by herself.  A first.

She still is a little afraid to check the traps and she is very thankful for daughters who think it's fun to jump out of bed each morning to go on a mouse hunt.  So far they've only caught one--two nights in a row with no catch--dare she hope it was just a small invasion and not the whole extended mouse family???  Ya, even she knows that's wishful thinking.

Yesterday her husband commented on how he was shocked that she was handling this latest invasion so well.  She wasn't crying.  She wasn't screaming.  She wasn't threatening to move.  She made no mention of buying a cat.  Or of calling in an exterminator.  She was handling it like an inconvenience but not like it was the end of the world as she knows it.

Take that! stupid, silly, paralyzing, horrible, irrational fear of mice.  I'm bigger than you!

Week 22 in the series of 52 Weeks of New

Week 18--Having too much Christmas fun to blog
Week 19--A Week of Firsts
Week 20--I Passed the Test
Week 21--???  How did I miss this?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Lord, Make Me Dangerous

Dangerous living...with a little extra padding just in case

This was the beginning of a process, not a complete story by itself.  We didn't live out 7 and cross the finish line.  This adventure was something like being morbidly obese and unable to schedule a life saving surgery until losing weight first.  We had to shed and cull and purge before God can even remotely begin to deal with the serious issues.  This was presurgery business, the required fast before the real procedure. ~ 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker

This, my dear readers, sums up what I have been doing for the past few months.  I have purged my entire house of excess clutter, I have purged my life of excess clutter (fear, depression, anxiety), and I am currently purging my soul of excess clutter (with a long fast).

I thought this was the end, amen.  I thought this was what God was asking me to do so I'd finally be what He wants me to be.  Apparently not.  This whole business of purging my things, my life, my heart--it's all been presurgery.  This has all been me shedding the over-the-top excess fat so I can be ready to get down to the real work.


I think this is going to hurt.

Last night I prayed that my kids would become brave and strong and dangerous.  What?  We don't want to be dangerous, they all cried.  And so I explained:  I pray that God will make you dangerous, so dangerous that demons flee when you enter the room.  Oh, okay.  That sounds good, Mom.

Today I pray, Lord, make me dangerous.  You've been preparing me for a while now, molding me into a useful soldier.  You've been telling me for a while that you have a plan for me and that you want me to do it.  I asked you many times what this plan was.  You replied: Say Yes.  To what?  Say Yes.  When?  Say Yes.  How?  Say Yes.


My life is being flipped upside down.  God warned me.  He told me almost a year ago that He was going to shake things up.  He told me that my life was about to change.  He declared this the year of Surrendering Control.  It might not be pretty, it might not be "safe," and it definitely won't be comfortable.

And so as my first act of really shaking things up, I am going to do what God has been hammering me over the head to do for months--I am going to fill out that application to start volunteering for Meals on Wheels, right now, this very minute...To be continued....okay, done.  Even though it's scary and might be inconvenient and will definitely make me feel uncomfortable at first, God keeps putting this on my heart, so there must be a reason.  Maybe that whole "taking care of widows and orphans thing."  Or maybe it will be the start of a beautiful relationship between my family and a home-bound elderly person.  Or maybe it's like that other time when it was more about the Yes than about the actual service.

Whatever the reason, it's done.  Finally.  After months of God knocking and me sticking my fingers in my ears and going tra-la-la-la-la.  (I kinda feel like one of my kids right now)

Yes, Lord.  I will do this scary thing.  Make me brave and strong and dangerous.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Of Mice and Treasures In Heaven

My half filled box of donations--before God smacked me upside the head

I went through my basement pantry to weed out any food that I didn't want to donate to a local homeless shelter.  I'm attending a fundraising luncheon this weekend to support the shelter and they are also having a donation drop off bin.

I pulled out the cereal that the kids don't like, the whole wheat pasta that the Hubs won't eat, a few other random items, and then went to grab the romen noodles.  I grabbed the first bag, expired.  Oops,  Into the trash.  I grabbed the second bag.  EWWWWWW!!!!!!  The second bag was chewed up, almost all of the noodles missing.  A MOUSE!!!!  In my house!

I gingerly finished going through the romen noodles and breathed a sigh of relief that it was just the one bag.  Maybe those mice limited their party to the one bag.  I went through the rest of the shelves examining every box and bag, looking for the telltale signs of entry.  My first clue was the shredded plastic under the pasta boxes.  Sure enough they'd eaten through a plastic bag of pasta.  An entire pound of noodles.  Gone.  I'm sensing that my mice are carbaholics.

Thankfully those were the only foods touched.  So far.  I pulled out some empty storage bins and put every food item that was in a box or bag into the bins and snapped on the lids.  I went to the store and bought a 4 pack of snap traps and a 4 pack of dcon bait stations and set them all around the basement.  I can only pray that this eliminates the problem.

(I thought about inserting a picture of the dead mouse we caught overnight 
here but thought that might scar some of my readers)

Once I dealt with the mouse problem, I got back to my donation box.  I added shampoos that we no longer liked, razors that didn't work for me, toothpaste that the kids hated (all of these were stockpile items and unused so don't get grossed out).  I purged the rest of the food items that we wouldn't eat.

I looked at my salsa stock and decided that I really did need 13 jars of it in my stockpile.  I looked at my pasta sauce and agreed that 10 jars was an acceptable quantity to own of a food item that my husband can't stand.  I considered throwing in a new bag of socks sitting in my closet waiting for the next child who puts holes in theirs but I didn't add it to the box.  We'll use those socks one day.

Despite the fact that I had a full box, all this stuff-- It cost me nothing.

I held back my surplus of the things that truly matter to me.  No, I won't share my salsa.  No, I won't share my pasta sauce.  Don't you touch my .....  It's mine!

Knock, knock.

Uh oh.  God has something to say about that.  Lisa, you're storing up your treasures here on earth, and you just saw evidence that mice can destroy it.  Is this really the person you want to be???  A person who hoards her surplus and won't share it with people who truly, desperately need it???

Lisa, put those socks in the box already.  Yes, Lord.  Lisa, put five jars of salsa and five jars of pasta sauce in that box.  Yes, Lord.  Go pick out your absolute favorite food in that pantry and put it in the box.  Yes, Lord.  (So long cheesy Chex Mix that I got for free last week--I can't eat you anyway for the next three weeks, but I was storing you for the end of my fast).  Lisa, fill up this entire box until there is no room left.  Then you can be done with this exercise.  Yes, Lord.

And so I will.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Long Fast

Image Source

I started reading 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker.  I first saw this book mentioned on a website months ago and was intrigued by it.  But my library didn't carry it and I have a thing against buying books that I'm not completely sure I will want to keep forever for reference.  I added the book to my wishlist and went on about my day.

Every so often I checked my library to see if the book was available, every so often I added it to my Amazon cart, and then quickly deleted it.  Finally, right before Christmas, as I was just about to buy it, I checked the library one last time and there it was.  Hallelujah!  I put in my request and impatiently waited for my turn to come up.  I picked it up from the library last week.

The premise of the book is that we live in a world of excess.  Too much food, clothing, possessions, media, waste, spending, and stress.  All of this excess is not only bad for us, but also distracts us from God.  The author decided to address each area for four weeks with a fast of seven items (seven foods, seven pieces of clothes, etc).  The first month she chose food.

She picked seven foods that she would eat for the entire month.  Nothing else except salt, pepper, olive oil and water.  She chose chicken, eggs, sweet potatoes, spinach, avocados, whole wheat bread, and apples.

I have been pondering doing a longer fast for a while, and this book presented a method that resonated with me.  I considered doing the Seven method, but ultimately opted against it.  Instead I decided to do a whole foods fast--if it didn't grow from the ground or come from an animal, it's out.  Only fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts, unprocessed meat, rice, and simple dairy (cheese, plain yogurt, kefir and milk).

The most important part of a fast is to know why you are fasting, so here are the things I am praying for:

1. That I would love with my actions, not just my words.
2. That I would listen for, and respond to, God's promptings with a "Yes".
3. Repentance for all the times I said "No" when God was calling.

So far it's been a week with three more weeks to go.  I've kept to the fast 100% except for when we've been away from home--we had three dinners at other houses that were not fast-friendly.  Here's what I've learned so far.

1. Fasting is easy the first few days because it's new and exciting.  Once the shine has worn off, it's hard work.  I made chocolate chip cookies for a party this weekend and a bunch of them came back home with us.  The past two nights those cookies have called to me.  I sat on the couch reading a book and all I could think about was those stupid cookies.  I wanted a cookie.  Instead I drank some kefir and ate an apple.  I prayed and prayed through my list, reminding myself why I was fasting.  Today, the cookie draw has passed.

2. I am a wheat eater.  Trying to come up with food choices that don't include wheat is a challenge, especially when I'm hungry but nothing sounds good.

3. I am a snacker.  I want to eat crackers for my evening snack.  While an apple and kefir satisfy my caloric and protein needs, they do little to satisfy my cracker desires.

4. Watching my whole family eat chips at dinner while I take seconds of the black bean salad takes a run through of my prayer list.  It's hard having a house full of processed foods, but the desire to consume said foods is weakening with time.

5. All those diet books that say once you break the sugar habit, your taste buds start noticing the sweetness of real foods were right.  Plain yogurt and kefir taste sweet.  Fruit really does satisfy my sweet cravings.  I ate a piece of cheese cake at my nephew's baptism party and felt a little sick from the sugar.

6. Having my list of things I'm praying for makes all the difference.  It's a lot easier to say no to things when I remember I'm fasting for a reason.  I would not be this successful if I'd decided to just do a whole foods diet because I wanted to lose weight or eat healthier.

If you've never tried an extended fast, you should give it a try.  I thought about waiting until Lent and fasting then, but I just couldn't wait.  But if you are less impatient than me, doing some version of a food fast for Lent would be an excellent idea.  Be sure to make a short list of the things that you are praying about so you can run through them over and over when you are tempted to break your fast.  Be prepared for God to meet you in your fast and speak to you.

Monday, January 21, 2013

I Admit...

I admit that I have been lazy about blogging lately.  I have written lots of entries and then just abandoned them in the "unpublished blog post underworld" because I didn't like them.  I've wracked my brain about what I could write about, but life just isn't that interesting these days.

Fancied up and waiting for the play to start

We've had fun--the kids and I went to see The Velveteen Rabbit at the theater last week.  The kids finally got to see the BIG theater where the Broadway shows are performed and not just the little theater for the kid shows.

I've said yes to five things that God asked me to do.

I've cleaned my house, over and over.  I've cooked and baked many meals.  I've taught my kids their school lessons every week day.

My little kitchen helper

I saw my nephew be baptized yesterday.

My friend gave me some kefir grains and I am attempting to make homemade kefir.  So far my first batch was watery, but I have high hopes for attempt number two.

Sometimes life is just....ordinary.

Nothing big is happening.  No revelations.  No ginormous accomplishments.  Just plain old, every day life.  And I kind of like it this way.  I love every season for their own reasons, but winter is my favorite.  When we're all snuggled up in the house, when we look out the window and see snow falling; there's just something about winter and an empty calendar that I love.

I know these ordinary, uneventful days won't last forever, so I am just enjoying them while they last.

Grocery shopping with the kids--where will the food go???

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Garden Bug

Proud builder of our new greenhouse for seed starting

The garden bug bit me big time this year.  Hubby is starting to get a little bit anxious with all the plans running through my head for our garden this summer.

I want a greenhouse--where will we put it?
I want a rabbit so we can get free compost--no livestock.
I want to plant fruit trees--where?
I want to try growing potatoes--why?
I want a really big garden that will supply almost all of our produce needs--good luck.

All of my gardening conversations with Hubby pretty much follow along these lines.  He supports my gardening dreams, but with a healthy dose of skepticism due to my previous gardening...blunders.

Lisa, you need to weed the garden every week.  I do?  Why?  They're not hurting anything.
Lisa, you need to stop screaming every time you encounter a worm.  Does my screaming bother you, Hun?
Lisa, you need to water the garden every day when it doesn't rain.  So often?
Lisa, you need to prune your plants to get the most out of them.  Really?
Lisa, you need to keep up with the garden even when the mosquitoes are so thick you can barely see through them.  Do we really need to eat vegetables this year?
Lisa, you need to keep spraying the garden with Liquid Fence if you want to keep the rabbits, deer, and other wildlife away.  I have to do it more than once?

Gardening extraordinaire I am not.  But, I love to see big plants full of fresh produce ready to be turned into dinner.  I smile when I walk out my backdoor with my kitchen sheers and snip a little oregano, basil, green onions and chives and know that all these things came from my garden.  I feel immense satisfaction making a stirfry using only vegetables that I grew myself.

What do I normally do when I want to learn to do something that I am not good at?  I read.  I love to read, and I love to read books about things that interest me.  I have been requesting books from the library left and right about all things gardening--Square Foot Gardening, Vertical Gardening, Quarter Acre Farming, Urban Farming, and on and on.  The librarians are starting to look at me a little funny, waiting for the overalls to make an appearance.

I got a seed catalog in the mail and circled more seeds than I have room for in my garden.  How do you choose between Sugar Baby Watermelons and Fresca Strawberries?  They both sound delicious.

Yesterday I bought seed starting trays, potting soil, a small greenhouse for seed trays, and transplant pots.  It's going to be hard waiting until March to start growing the seedlings.  I'm trying to decide if I should construct a hoop house to warm the ground enough so I can put in cool crops this spring--spinach, radishes, lettuce.  Or maybe build some cold boxes--I have several salvaged glass doors and windows just waiting to be turned into cold boxes.

All these visions of growing enough produce to not only sustain my own family but to have enough excess to give away, donate or sell at a farmers market.

But first I need to make my peace with the worms, weeds, and mosquitoes.  I'm thinking about investing in a mosquito netting outfit.  Don't you think this would be classy???

Monday, January 14, 2013

Yes Jar

Sometimes I'm a little slow when it comes to figuring out what God is trying to speak to me.  This is one of those cases.

A while ago I felt God telling me that He had things for me to do.  But no matter how much I prayed, how long I read my Bible, how many times I sat in my prayer spot, I could not figure out what He was asking me to do.

Last week He told me: There's no when? or why? or how?  Just--Go!

The next day He said:  Do it.  Stop waiting.

And then the next day:  Love does.  Clearly I need to do something.  Tell me what, Lord, and I'll do it.

I wrestled with this all last week.  Sunday at the prayer meeting it just kept coming back to me.  Be a light.  Shine in the darkness.  You've got the training, now get to work.

I came home slightly encouraged but mostly confused.  Do what?  WHAT???  Just tell me what to do already and I'll do it!!!  I dragged Hubby into the living room and made him sit there while I dumped all my thoughts on him.  I want to do something for God, God is clearly calling me to do something, but I don't know what!  Tell me, Hubby!  What am I supposed to do?!

And then it clicked.  That missing piece.  My derp-derp moment.

Here I'd been waiting for God to tell me what grand gesture He had for me.  I was waiting for something big and important--like be a missionary to Africa.  Or start an outreach.  Or take in orphans and refugees.

But I missed the whole point.  God hasn't been knocking me over the head all this time because He has some huge, momentous thing for me to do.  He's been trying to tell me that He's looking for me to say "Yes."  Just a simple "yes."  Yes, I will call that person.  Yes, I will invite that person over for dinner.  Yes, I will sign up to serve at that event.  Yes, I will do what You ask of me, no matter how small.  Yes, I will stop sitting on my duff when You call me to action.  Yes, I will stop looking for that big, important, grand gesture and I will instead focus on the daily little things that You call me to do.

It seems so...small.  So...ordinary.  So...simple.  Yes.  Really, God?  That's it?  That's all You want from me?  Yes.

It's easy to think that something so small and ordinary isn't really making much of a difference.  I have a friend who's a missionary in Madagascar.  I have friends who run entire outreaches to high school and college aged people.  Now these people are making an impact.  Me?  I'm just saying Yes.  What difference is that going to make?

Enter the Yes Jar.  I need to see this visually.  So I have a jar, and I have coins.  Every time I say Yes to God, every time He asks me to do something and I do it, I will put a coin in my Yes Jar.  At the end of the year I will add up all the coins so I can (hopefully) see that it's no small thing to say Yes.  Today it seems like just one tiny Yes.  But add it to a regular habit of saying Yes to God and it adds up to a big pile of Yeses.  

Friday, January 11, 2013

I Passed The Test

Back in November I was asked if I would mentor a new woman who was exploring joining my prayer group.  My immediate response was no.  I'd been down this road before and felt like a complete failure.  Trying to help new members get plugged in, get grounded in their faith, find the support they need, this is not my sort of gift.  Give me a woman who's been around for a while and is committed already to living the Christian life and I'm fine with that.

Yet, I found myself not saying no.  My mouth was open to say no, but what came out was, "I will pray about it and tell you tomorrow."  Huh?  Blast this 52 Weeks of New thing.

I went home and prayed about it.  Of course I felt very strongly that God was telling me to say yes.  So I did.  I planned to call up this woman and set up a time to meet, but decided to wait until after the holidays.  My life was crazy busy with Disney, Christmas and New Years.  I finally got around to emailing her on Tuesday to set up a time to meet.  Not an hour later I got an email from the person who asked me to mentor her letting me know that this woman had decided to stop exploring our group because her life was too busy to attend the meetings, small groups, and other events.

A big part of me was relieved.  I no longer had to do this hard thing that I didn't really want to do.  Another part of me was asking, "But why did God want me to say yes if it wasn't even going to work out?"

Sometimes the important lesson isn't doing the hard thing--it's being willing and saying yes.

Apparently this time around God wasn't really asking me to mentor anyone, He was more interested in my willingness.  Even though I won't be mentoring the woman after all, I still passed the test.

Week 20 in the series of 52 Weeks of New

Week 18--Having too much Christmas fun to blog
Week 19--A Week of Firsts

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Thrift Store Jackpot

I stopped off at my favorite thrift store--Volunteers of America--yesterday.  I was looking for cute, random pots to grow herbs in because I am tired of my big clay box one that hogs up the entire kitchen window and blocks the sunlight.

We were walking in front of the building to the door and that's when I saw it in the window: an end table.  Not just any old end table.  But the end table.  The one I have been searching for in every catalog, store, garage sale, and thrift store for over a year.  I've seen a few that I liked but they cost way more than I wanted to spend.  So I've put off making a purchase, hoping and praying I'd find a used one for a much more reasonable price.  And there it was.  The perfect height, really big to go with our really big couches, a cupboard to hide things in, real wood, sturdy.

The best part?  It was only $16.61.

The only problem with the table is that it's a bit...distressed looking.  There are some black markings on the table top, and some gouges on the sides.  I bought the table planning to refinish it.  But then I brought it into my living room and realized something--the table matches my other woodwork almost perfectly.  It matches the fire mantle and the piano.  The black spots add character and the dings are covered up by the couches.  I put one of my new lamps onto the table and they go well together.  It was like this table was made for my house.  I don't know if I want to refinish it after all.  I kinda like it the way it is.

I found something else that I have been wanting for a long time: a gravy boat.  I have one that's metal, but it's too small.  I really wanted one that could hold more and was pretty.  I was in the process of checking out my order when I saw an awesome gravy boat on the shelf behind the counter where all the nice, antiquey things are displayed.  I hesitantly asked the clerk how much it was and was shocked that it was only $1.60.  I snatched that baby up.  I say that it matches my dishes since it has blue flowers on it just like my dishes do, but Hubby says otherwise.  Either way, it's cute, it was cheap, suites my needs perfectly and makes me happy.

Gravy boat and two new herb pot

 I had a really good day at the thrift store.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Surrendering Control

I was scheduled to help in Sunday School this past Sunday with the first through sixth grade girls.  I wasn't exactly thrilled with the idea, but Lizzy was so excited to have mom with her that I got over my lack of enthusiasm.  Mostly I was sorry to miss the "grown up" meeting because it'd been a month since I last attended due to being gone at Disney World, then Christmas and New Years.  I really just wanted to have a chance to worship and be fed.

Silly me with my low expectations.

The girls had their own little prayer time where they sang a few songs and then said a few prayers.  The guitar playing mom said that she felt like God was asking us to pick one thing--just one--that we felt God calling us to give up or surrender this year.  The first thing that came to our minds.  And right there in the middle of a group of little girls, in a place where I wasn't expecting anything, God spoke to me and told me to surrender control.


To give up control of pretty much everything--my life, my time, my schedule, my routine, my homeschooling, my plans, my goals.  Yup, all of that.  Just toss it aside and let God lead and direct my steps, not me.

When we were at Disney World, we had to keep reminding the kids that there was nothing to be afraid of on any of the rides.  Even if a roller coaster seemed scary, it was all controlled fun.  Even if those roaring dinosaurs seemed like they were about to eat you, it was all just an act.  Nothing would ever hurt them and nothing was real.

Thankfully, we have someone better than Walt Disney and his league of imagineers--we have Jesus who is always at our side.  He takes us on real adventures, not just pretend.  It may be real, it may be scary, it may be dangerous, and things may roar at us, but Jesus is with us, and He promises that He will never leave us nor forsake us.

And so I prayed that God would help me surrender control and told God to lead on.  I am ready to go.

I may be a control freak who lives by her routines and schedules, but by the end of this year I pray I am a reformed control freak.  One who can take three weeks off for winter break and not have her house fall apart because her routine is thrown off.  One who can return to homeschooling after said break and get right back into the swing of things.

I pray I am a woman who has no worries for the future because I rest confidently in the knowledge that God is the one in control and the one who directs my steps.  A woman who trusts that when God calls me, He will equip me with all that I need to get the job done.

So today I wave goodbye to my old friend control.  It was nice knowing you.

Friday, January 4, 2013

A Week of Firsts

I've been having so much fun this week that I almost forgot to post my 52 Weeks of New blog.  We can't have that!  This week was as doozy so hang on...

Friday night Hubby and I went to see The Hobbit--in 3D.  Hubby was shocked when I said that I'd never seen a real movie in 3D before, just the short ones at Disney World and other similar venues.  The 3D was awesome and I would love to try it again except for one thing--the glasses gave me a splitting headache.  I don't know if we were sitting too close to the screen, the loooonnnnngggg length of the movie, or the glasses themselves, but my eyes and head were killing me by the end.  But it sure was perty.

100% whole wheat goodness

Saturday I pulled out the new cookbook my inlaws bought me for Christmas and made Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day with my new Danish dough whisk.  And it was delicious.  Whole wheat bread.  It rose, it baked up fluffy and crusty and perfect.  It was super easy and quick with no kneading.  I did two things differently from how I normally do--I used my kitchen scale to measure all of the ingredients in grams.  I used a gallon ice cream bucket and put it on the scale.  I added an ingredient until I reached the right gram amount, tared the scale, added the next ingredient, etc.  The only other thing I can figure that might have made the difference is that I also used vital wheat gluten (which I had to try three stores before finding).  But whatever the magic key was, I am a convert to the five minutes a day way.

Bundled up and ready to go sledding

Sunday we took the kids sledding to a hill in town.  I know that doesn't sound like a big deal but I have never gone sledding with my kids around here.  We've gone a few times while at the cabin, lots of times in my mom's backyard, but never on a local hill.  Of course I wiped out on the first run which dampened my enthusiasm for the venture, but I did go down the hill a few more times.

Monday I played a game with the kids that didn't make me want to run and scream in the opposite direction.  Hubby bought Catan Junior for David for Christmas and the whole family begged me to play.  I said I would once and that's it because I knew I was going to hate it.  It's a game, involving strategy, my least favorite kind of game.  But I liked it.  I played it two more times this week.  Crazy.

From this...
To this.  Pathetic.

Wednesday I pulled out my food dehydrator that I got last Christmas for the first time and dried carrots.  I wanted to try it so I started with something cheap and easy.  I admit it was a little disconcerting to see six pounds of carrots reduced to enough to fit inside a pint mason jar, but I am hopeful they will plump back up and work well in soups.  But mostly they were just a gateway experiment before moving onto more expensive produce--like apples and cherries and blueberries.

Wednesday night for dinner I made lamb.  I've never made lamb before.  But Hubby loves lamb and I found a two-pack of shoulder steaks on clearance so I thought I'd give it a try.  I browned them and then braised them.  They turned out pretty good for my first attempt.  Maybe one day when we finally buy that half-a-lamb I will get really good at cooking it.

Thursday I had my first tea party with the girls.  Complete with real tea, stuffed animals sitting on pillows to reach the table, and finger food.  We had fun.

Today we went to The Henry Ford museum with members from my side of the family.  I remember going to the Henry Ford once when I was a kid and thinking it was the worst, most boringest museum I had ever gone to so I wasn't very enthusiastic about our planned outing.  I don't know if we just skipped the cool, kid-friendly exhibits when I was a kid or if they didn't exist back then, but my kids and their cousins had a blast!  They had a lego exhibit with legos for the kids to play with.  A place to make paper airplanes and then fly them to try to hit a target (the best part was when my dad and my uncle got into an airplane flying contest).  A place to build with k'nex and make cars that they could race on a track.  Huge model train tracks.  There were lots of things for kids to do and I plan to visit again in the future.

The first car we're going to buy for David--all 10 miles an hour of it

As you can see it's been a busy week in my house.  But we're winding down as we get ready to start school again on Monday.  Momma is looking toward Monday with a little trepidation--I have to do school again???  Yup, I'm almost as bad as the kids.  After three weeks of Disney World, Christmas, and New Years fun, getting back into a school routine is going to take a bit of work.  But we'll get there.

Week 19 in the series of 52 Weeks of New

Week 18--Having too much Christmas fun to blog

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Tea Tasting Party

Hubby went back to work after lots of vacation and holiday time off and David went to a friend's house meaning....girls only day!!!!  Lizzy asked if she and Joy could have a tea party with real tea.  "I don't know, Lizzy.  I don't think you'll like real tea.  But you can try it."  Despite all of the wonderfully magical virtues of tea, I am not a tea drinker and often refer to tea as drinking dirty water.  But, the girls really wanted real tea so I pulled out all of our tea offerings and we each chose one to try.  I heated up the water, got out the mugs and we started sampling.

The first tea we tried was Twinings Herbal Unwind.  While better than the norm, it was only mediocre.  The girls declared it okay, but not their favorite and asked if they could add sugar.  With the addition with sugar, they raised their like level to about one step above mediocre.

The second tea we tried was a Lemon Ginger tea.  I think Lizzy's face says it all.  I had to set the example by not spitting the tea out in the sink, but it wasn't easy.

The third tea, Oregon Chai's Dreamscape, was declared the winner.  While I'm still not about to take up tea drinking, this tea could grow on me if I kept drinking it.  I received this tea as a free sample pack from the company, so there are two other varieties I can try before deciding if I want to actually buy tea for me to drink.  Hubby might not be able to handle the shock if I did.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

When I'm Sick

The cruddies hit after dinner last night.  You know when that feeling comes over you--your sinuses start draining and your throat starts hurting and you know you're about to get laid flat.  That's how I felt last night. I chugged an airborne and ate an orange, but the germs were already entrenched.  I woke up today feeling like I'd been run over by a truck.

I got up and ate breakfast but all I wanted to do was crawl back into bed.  I laid down on the couch instead and watched an hour of Garfield and Friends with the kids (their latest Netflix show).  Then Hubby woke up and turned on ESPN and we watched sports highlights for a while and I became educated on the finer arts of head coaches and general managers getting fired when their football teams don't make the playoffs.

Finally I took possession of the remote.  It was only 10:15 am, but I had this overwhelming desire to watch The Price Is Right just like I did every time I staid home sick as a kid.  Funny how years later I still remember that it is on every week day at 11:00 am.  I flipped through the channels and found Let's Make a Deal instead.  The kids were a riot getting into the show--Choose what's behind the curtain!  No, don't pick what's under the box!  Oh no, she won a broccoli purse--oh wait, it's full of money!

And then 11:00 am rolled around and The Price is Right came on.  First, I just have to say that it is not the same without Bob Barker and the Barker Beauties.  What do they call the girls now?  Drew's Dames?  I watched it, laughed as David called out guesses for everything and got super excited when he was closest, and made Hubby snicker when he walked by the living room and overheard me explaining the finer arts of spinning the big wheel--you win if you get the closest to $1.00 without going over.

I concluded my morning with a lunch of homemade turkey noodle soup and whole wheat bread.  When you're sick, a bowl of soup laced with yummy bread is what you eat, right?  Lucky for me, I threw a turkey drumstick in the crock pot yesterday and made soup for dinner, and whipped up a loaf of bread even before I knew I was going to be sick.

The one thing that I remember about being sick that I didn't have was Vernors pop.  I almost ran to the store just to buy Vernors until I remembered that the taste of Vernors makes me physically ill after drinking so much of it when I had horrible, un-medically treated morning sickness with David.  And that Vernors is for when you have the pukes, not a cold.

Sometimes it's nice to be sick because it means you can laze around all day on the couch watching mindless game shows.  Until you remember that you're the mom with a house full of kids who need to eat.  And a kitchen full of dirty dishes that need to be cleaned up.  And laundry that has been sitting in the washer since last night that needs to be dried before it starts to smell.  And an empty fridge that is going to require you to go to the store tomorrow unless all you want to eat is vegetables since you did go to the farmers market store yesterday but only bought produce and nothing else.

That's when you remember that it's a lot more fun to be sick as a kid--you get to miss school, watch TV, and have mom to wait on you.  Being the sick Mom is a whole lot less fun.  Unless you can convince your mom to come over and take care of you.  Mom???  Are you coming???