Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I'm at the Cafe today

Do you have a quiet place?

Come find out why I am asking by joining me here today.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Can we please have Bible Study?

Those of you IRL (in real life) who attend Tuesday morning Bible Study at church and maybe stop by here occasionally...I am so sorry!

The weather is just not cooperating. This morning I was hopeful that school would be on the normal schedule, but no not today, we had a two hour delay. hey, that rhymes

I was sooooooo looking forward to getting together this morning. I wanted to stomp my foot like a little child and scream, "nooooo, it's not fair!"

So, here I sit with my homework completed for two weeks in a row, hungry to feed on His word in the presence of the sweet ladies who are so faithful to attend.

This is our fourth cancellation since we started in January. We had hoped to finish this study before Easter, but we laughingly said after the second cancellation, "we will be happy to finish by Summer".

This isn't funny!

I am working on some make-up class times.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Soup & Speech update

This morning I placed the ingredients for Italian Sausage Soup in my crock pot, and through out the day it filled my home with the smells of my favorite Italian restaurant.

All five of my kids love this soup and it is a nice change from your more traditional soups. It is great on a cold snowy day (like today), and also the recipe can be easily doubled for a crowd.

Makes 8 servings

1 lb. bulk Italian sausage
1 onion, chopped finely
1/2 tsp bottled minced garlic

2 medium carrots, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped

1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried oregano, crushed
1/2 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 tsp dried basil, crushed
1/4 tsp dried thyme, crushed
1/4 tsp fennel seeds, crushed

3 14-oz. cans chicken broth
1 cup dried orzo pasta

finely shredded Parmesan cheese for serving

In a skillet, cook sausage, onion, and garlic over medium heat until sausage is brown. Drain off fat.

In crock pot, combine carrots and celery. Add sausage mixture. In bowl, combine tomatoes, sauce, and spices. Pour mixture and chicken broth over sausage mixture.

Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.

If using low-heat setting, turn to high-heat setting. Stir in pasta. Cover and cook for 20 minutes more. Discard bay leaf. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Add some garlic cheese bread and enjoy!

Update on my daughter's speech competition since so many of you asked (thank you!):

Before I dropped Lauren off at the high school early Saturday morning, she told me she was nervous. As I drove down the street the couple blocks to the school, I told her that she had already done a really great thing as far as we were concerned. But, I grabbed her hand and we prayed for her day.

Lauren was scheduled to perform the first speech (the one she agreed to do the night before) at 9 am. It was in the story-telling category. She called us shortly after she had received her score and shared with us that she had received the highest possible score, a "1". We all shouted with joy for her and at that point it didn't matter to her how the rest of the day went.

But, later that afternoon shortly after she gave her speech in the acting category, she called again to tell us she had received another score of "1". We were all so happy for her. She had worked very hard on this speech using an accent throughout the entire speech and having to break out in song at what point, and tears in the next.

She will now compete in two weeks at state.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Parenting thoughts...

We all know that being a parent is one of the most exhausting roles we can have. We pray for a little one to fill our arms, only to be totally amazed that such a little person can go through a room that has just been picked up and make you feel as if you have never lifted a finger. We tearfully watch as they turn school age and slowly gain more independence and for the most part the approaching years seem to provide a small amount of relief as we watch them grow and learn. And then one day the child that seemed to move from one clothing size to another year after year suddenly has an unbelievable growth spurt in which you now wonder if it is your destiny to give away perfectly good clothing. And before you know it, what is standing before you is the shape and size of an adult, but is still growing in wisdom.

This is where I am at with my oldest daughter.

Oh, how I would love to share about some of our conversations. They are so precious and I am trying to take mental notes, listen well, and jot down some of things she is sharing. I would never want to embarrass her, so I will have to keep these to myself for now.

Today when I picked her up after speech practice, we had one such conversation. I saw a small growth in maturity and was so thankful for the way she was trusting the Lord for things to take place in her life. (you may be thinking this has to do with boys, but it didn't) I don't take these little things for granted, and I am thankful to the Lord each time she expresses her desire to walk in His ways.

Often times when our kids are teens, we are so concerned about what they might be doing, that we miss what they are not doing. I often find myself wanting to focus only on those areas that lack wisdom and understanding, and sometimes fail to acknowledge so much of the good stuff.

Tomorrow she is participating in her High School's individual speech competition. She was originally set up to perform one speech in the acting category, but today fifteen minutes before their practice concluded, her speech coach (while looking directly at her) told the group that one of the students had dropped out in the story telling category and she was hoping someone would be willing to take her place. My daughter responded to her direct eye contact and agreed to pick up a second speech. So, here it is Friday night and she is upstairs rehearsing for this second speech. She told me in the car that her coach was elated that she would be willing to do this.

I am so proud of her. Not because she has another opportunity to win a competition, oh no, but for her willingness to be inconvenienced to help her coach out and even the rest of the team. If anything, her first speech (which is amazing), now will have to share the energy and effort with this last minute addition and will not get all of her attention on this eve of the competition.

Often times in our self centered culture, most of us would never take on something so last minute unless we had something to gain. I know that her intentions for doing this has nothing to do with herself, but has everything to do with what someone else needed at the moment.

I can't help but think...Wisdom.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

What Day is it?

Those were my exact thoughts this morning as I awoke. This week has me totally confused. Yesterday I thought it was Thursday all day, except I knew I had church, but I kept thinking tomorrow was Friday, even though it was going to be Thursday, which is today, right? I told you I am confused!

This week our life has been centered around the school's website. In fact, If traffic to their site was something they were trying to build, we contributed this week in a big way and they must have huge smiles on their faces.

Will there be school today? Will there be a late start? Some were standing in front of the computer refreshing the page over and over praying for the words, "school canceled today" while others were just hoping for the words, "2 hour delay today" so that they could continue to sleep in again for the who knows how many days in a row.

But, this morning the website read, "regular class schedule today." As I went from room to room gently nudging each of my sleeping kiddos, all snuggled in the warmth of their beds, there was a long sigh as I told them we had a regular schedule today.

Everyone slowly crept out of bed and began their normal morning routine for the first time in over a week. We all enjoyed waffles and the morning chaos was at a minimum.

As I drove up to the three different schools, I blessed each of my kids as I do every morning with the words, "the Lord be with you today, may His face shine upon you, and may you learn to the glory of God. I love you! and don't slip on the ice! "

As I drove away from the middle school, my eleven year old son turned the corner on the sidewalk and you guessed it, slide down the sidewalk a few inches on the ice managing of course to stay on his feet, turned around and smiled at me. All I have to say is, "What day is it?"

Friday, February 15, 2008

Lies Young Women Believe

About a month ago, I pre-ordered a copy of Lies Young Women Believe by Nancy DeMoss and Dannah Gresh. The book arrived about a week ago and I have been skimming through it for the past few days and oh, I am so excited that these two ladies have written this book that I had to post something.

Lies Women Believe is a book I highly recommend every woman to read. Nancy addresses so many lies and strongholds that have gripped my own life and she combats them directly with the truth of God's Word. She addresses the areas of our priorities, marriage, children, emotions, and many more. It was amazing for me to discover how much I had bought into the enemy's deception or had accepted the world's standard rather than God's truth.

It is a book on my list to read again this year as well as work through her Companion Guide.

About two years ago while browsing through a christian book store I came across Dannah Gresh's book , And the Bride Wore White. At first I thought it would be something for a young woman who was engaged to be married. But to my delight, the book was suited for older teenage or college age girls. Dannah shares seven secrets to sexual purity intermingled with her own testimony and how God brought her to be married to her husband. It is a beautiful love story packed with powerful spiritual truths. I read the book in about a week and the Lord graciously opened some doors and the teenage girls in our church have been able to participate in a purity retreat based on this book for two years in a row.

So, you can imagine how giddy I was when I was asked if I would like to pre-order this book. It looks fun and inviting to a young woman (I've already caught both of my girls thumbing through it and asking if they could read it) and it addresses areas such as myself, guys, relationships, sin, and the media.

I've only read the introduction and all I can say is WOW and thank you Nancy, Dannah and Moody Publishing for a great resource for our daughters. I will share more as I read.

For more information about this book you can go here.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Red + Blood = Love

I love the color red!

I love it’s boldness!

I love that it is uninhibited!

I love that it makes a statement!

I love that it is romantic!

I am usually drawn to the red sofas in the furniture store. (someday) I love red roses, red poppies, and red tulips. I have some red plates, a red can opener, and I have been admiring a friends red pots and pans hanging in her kitchen for weeks.

Red is such a fun color! It is beautiful and bold at Christmas and soft and romantic on Valentine’s Day. It is patriotic and heart-felt on the 4th of July and oh so breathtaking when the leaves turn a deep rich shade of it in the fall.

But red represents something else for those who are believers in Jesus Christ. It represents His blood. Not just any blood. It is the blood that was shed on a cross for my sins and for yours too!

It is rich, bold, uninhibited, romantic, and has made such a huge statement in my life. I can barely sing about it in church without the tears streaming down my face. I know of its power personally!

"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace." Ephesian 1:7

Today red will be used in many ways. It will be the primary color in cards and notes exchanged between lovers, friends, and kids at school. Red roses will be sent to sweethearts from florists on every corner. Red heart shaped boxes will appear from behind someone’s back into the hands of another filled with something sweet. All of which are expressions of love!

But I want to be reminded of another expression of love. There is absolutely nothing I can do to earn this love or change this love, or even repay this love.

It is perfect love shown to me when Jesus opened his arms and allowed his very own flesh to be nailed to a cross. RED, rich life giving blood had already been shared in amounts beyond what is imaginable even before one strike of the nail.

Yet he continued, went to the cross and shed His blood for me and for you.

We have been given the greatest gift of love!

The red blood of Jesus Christ!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Best Friends Forever

While driving to the store tonight with only Hunter (7) in the car, he called out from the back seat and asked me if I knew what BFF stood for?

I told him in a very excited tone that I did!

He then proceeded to tell me that I was his BFF!

If only I could bottle this seven year old boy who will still hold my hand as we walk into a store together?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

...the rest of our snow day in pictures

after they cleaned their rooms, this is what the rest of our day looked like...

boys working on a snow fort...

a three year old enjoying the path he was carving in the un-touched snow and looking back at his foot prints....

sitting down to warm up on pizza and hot cocoa for lunch....

listening to a sixteen year old share about her speech competition over the weekend...

peeking into the room where a eleven and twelve year old enjoyed playing together...

observing little hands making play dough creatures...

and guess what two giggling boys came up with all on their own, "daddy and mommy"
Yes, here we are...

And to end our seven year old prepared a box of brownies for dessert while I made dinner. He did everything on his own. I only set the oven temp and of course put the brownies in the oven and took them out.

They turned out delicious! He's quite the little chef.

It was a great day!

It's Official

And here is how you can tell besides my daughter putting her hand print in the snow on our front porch:

loud praise music and the smell of pancakes fills the house. Our official snow day breakfast. My twelve year old has been busy this morning.

The kids are hoping for a fun day! (shhh...they will be cleaning their rooms and helping me complete some much needed work in the house. I can no longer over look the winter storm that has struck in each of their rooms.)

But don't worry, it can't be a snow day without building a snow man and hot cocoa.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Snow Day?

Will tomorrow be a snow day?

This was the question that each of my children asked as I tucked them into bed tonight.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Super Bowl Sunday

We just finished watching the big game and was that exciting or what!! About fourteen years ago I became a serious football watcher with my husband. I decided since it was something that he enjoyed so much, I would join in. He loved it. And believe it or not I have stuck with it even though in recent years neither one of us have had much time to watch many games during the regular season.

This was the first year in many that we haven't had a house full of people all crowded in front of our televsion, kids running from room to room and a truck load of food spread throughout the kitchen. Earlier this week my husband and I discussed our plans for today and agreed we both were tired from various things that have taken place over the past several weeks and decided to just be home alone with our own kids.

So, we all put our sweats/pajamas on about 3 o'clock. I made a huge pot of White Bean and Chicken Chili. I put out the chips, dips, little smokies rolled in a blanket (because my husband requested those in front of the whole congregration this morning, both services) and for dessert I completly out did myself by serving up two flavors of Oreo cookies with milk for dessert. We all had a blanket or two, some pillows and enjoyed the big game.

Of course, I had to cheer on the New York Giants because 1) I love New York and 2) they were not expected to win and I am usually always for the under dog in everything, even though the Patriots were undefeated and this would of been a huge victory for them as well. Sorry New England fans! Mostly, it was a fun day even without the huge crowd.

Now back to the real reason I sat down at the computer, to finish my bible study for Tuesday morning.

Friday, February 01, 2008

For You - Not Me

For five years my husband served as Pastor for a small church along Highway 49 in the foothills of the Sierras. It was a beautiful place to live! The view from our home was breathtaking. We lived on nearly two acres of hillside surrounded by towering pine and oak trees. Most days we were guaranteed the most beautiful blue skies. And for a girl who had spent every day before this with both the gray overcast mornings of the Southern California basin and the smog that would sit just above us except when the winds would blow through, the pure blue sky was a gift to be enjoyed.

Although our surroundings were beautiful, these were five of the most difficult, grueling, life transforming, growing, heart-wrenching, painful, very difficult (I can’t think of anymore adjectives to use to describe what I am trying to convey) years we have yet to experience both in life and ministry.

I remember one day in particular. I was complaining to God about all the chairs and tables my husband and I had to set up, the coffeepots we had to clean, the vacuuming, the errands, the toilets we scrubbed and the floors we mopped – the servant’s work. I was trying to explain to God that he was wasting all our experience and education by having us do so much menial work.

For the rest of this post please follow me over to the Cafe.