12.27.2011

Confession Time

They say confession is good for the soul, and I have found that to be the case. In light of that, there are a few things I would like to share.

First, at the beginning of this year I wrote a post about how I needed to get healthy, by changing my diet, drinking more water and exercising. Instead of doing any of that, I have actually gone in the opposite direction, consuming more junk, less water and barely exercising - outside of the everyday chasing and lifting of heavy children. Apparently that doesn't count for much.

In fact, I have generally not taken good care of myself at all. I frequently miss meals, and live on coffee. While it isn't politically correct to admit this, I can't really afford to miss meals, because while some struggle to lose weight, I have always struggled to keep my weight up to a healthy level. So, I need to work out some ways to have healthy snacks and lunches pre-made and easy to grab...and get back to the organic food aisle. I've consumed more Doritos this year alone than in my entire lifetime, I bet. Unfortunately, this is going to require planning. Not my strength.

Second, I also wrote a post about needing to get some things around my home in order. I took a break from leading small groups, so that later I could be more free to serve. Guess what...I am still in the same boat! Except now I don't just have an awareness that things need attention, I am completely overwhelmed. It's ridiculous, really, because people have been married, raising kids and caring for homes for centuries. It can't be that hard.

So, I have dropped everything again, because I have realized that I am not in any position to do ministry. If I am not physically and emotionally healthy, and if my home, and the relationships within it, aren't thriving, then I have nothing to offer. [Nobody's going anywhere or anything...we just need to work on some attitudes and discipline issues with the little kids and Dave and I need to make sure we are carving out time for ourselves. When you have four kids, it gets a little challenging ;)]

Here's one on another topic altogether. I am making it my goal to become a more encouraging person. A friend who I love dearly once told me that I am a "challenging" friend, and she was right to say it. I don't know exactly what all she meant, but I do know that I can be hard to love and I say things at times that may not need to be said at all, or that could stand a little "sugar-coating." The Bible talks about iron sharpening iron, and it does take sandpaper to wear down our rough edges, but honestly, I don't want to be somebody's sandpaper friend. When you are thinking about who you want call to come over, do you call your challenging friend or your encouraging one? That's a no-brainer. Not that there are never times to say hard things, but I don't want that to be what characterizes me.

Finally, for all the talk I do about caring for the poor and needy, I don't actually do a whole lot. I don't do nothing, but I don't think I do enough either. I feel a lot of emotion about all the need, and I can cry in a heartbeat just thinking about it, but what good is that? The danger of knowing all the right scriptures, and feeling all those feelings, is that I might end up deceiving myself.

The book of James talks about not just being a hearer of the word, but a doer. Also, knowledge puffs up our egos, but love builds people up. If I don't pay attention, I might end up believing, because I feel sorry for people and can quote scripture about why we should be giving to the poor and oppressed, that I am fulfilling the law of God. Mercy has to be active or it isn't mercy...it's sympathy. Sympathy never filled a belly, kept a body warm or set a captive free.

There, I think that's enough for now. I'm glad that's out there.

12.17.2011

When Christmas Doesn't Feel Christmas-y Just Think About Christmas

One of my favorite Christmas songs when I was little was "The Little Drummer Boy." It always made me tear up, and I think what I liked about it was the idea that a child could have something to offer the Baby Jesus. It made me feel like I had a place there at the manger. I had no idea that there really was no drummer boy there until I was older; even my little nativity scene had a boy with a drum. But, I still love the idea that I would be welcome there and the little I had to offer could make Him smile.

I have to confess that this year just doesn't feel super Christmas-y. I'm playing Christmas music, and loving it, and we have our Christmas tree up, although strands of lights keep going out, one by one. I might as well go back to the non-pre-lit tree. It would be less trouble. But that's another topic.

I know that this time of year brings with it joy, and pain, for many people. Personally, I am thankful that though my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer at this time last year, she is now cancer-free!! That she is still here makes the season meaningful.

At the same time, my friend, Summer, has just begun treatments to battle cervical cancer. It's hard to want to celebrate the season knowing what she is going through. I think of her constantly and pray often. For the past two years we have gone to their house on Christmas night for dinner, along with another family. Since none of us travel on the big day, we decided it would be fun to celebrate with friends...who are like family.

This actually would have been the first year I would be "sane." The first year I had just had a baby and was, a bit hormonal. The second year was slightly better, but I think I was still tightly wound. So, I'm a bit bummed we won't be able to spend that night together. Next year.

I think the fact that I find it hard to feel joyful exposes something: I am focused more on the human side of Christmas than the God side of it. If I am going to fuss and complain about how Jesus is supposed to be the focus of the season, not Santa Claus, not material possessions, greed, etc., then I have to also hold myself to that same standard.

Christmas is about celebrating Jesus, Immanuel, God with us. That the Word became flesh and dwelt among men, arriving in a stinky barn, no less. That He came and changed everything - one sacrifice for all. That He came and made a way for me. That He was bruised for our transgressions and by His wounds we are healed. It's about remembering that I have a great High Priest, who is familiar with my temptations and suffering. And He intercedes for me day and night. That because of Him I can approach God's throne of grace with boldness and confidence...that I can come before Him with all my concerns and requests, knowing that He hears. That my prayers go up like incense and they are always before Him. This is why I even bothered praying for my mom last year and why I pray for Summer now...I KNOW He hears. I belong to Him and so does she.

This should be my focus at Christmas. The reality is that the feeling I had as a child when I heard "The Little Drummer Boy," that I belonged there, is right. I do belong. As an adult I know this not because of that song, but because the Word tells me I do. Knowing that changes my perspective. He gave all for me. He is worthy of worship.

The challenge is to believe the truth and release our cares and hurts to Him. That is the only way to find peace. No matter what is going on around you, celebrate Christmas...the entrance of Immanuel and the revelation of Grace. Of Peace. Of the source of Hope.

Romans 5:1-5
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.


MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

12.13.2011

The Glory of a Woman

The glory of a woman isn't her hair
It's not the way she adorns her body
It isn't seen in the way she keeps her home
Thank God
Or in her perfection
For even the best-intentioned fall short

It isn't defined by what she has
Not husbands, not children, not career

The glory of a woman is in something not seen
It's a peaceful and quiet soul
It's a heart awakened to her purpose
A heart unafraid to feel
Unafraid to give and receive
Who accepts the way she's been made
And who loves freely

It's most clearly seen
In the faces of the ones she loves
And believes in
As their smiles reflect she's been there

Her heart reflects the One she serves
The One who created her
The One who loves her
And called her
And fills her.

God, make me a woman like this.

--inspired by friends who challenge me to grow

12.11.2011

Learning...

Things I am learning, and re-learning:

1. Margin in life is extremely important. There should be time in the schedule for rest, fun and the unexpected things in life that inevitably will come. If you're too busy to rest or to serve others then a reevaluation of the schedule is in order.

2. Timing is everything. There are good things we can spend time doing, but good things at the wrong time aren't good at all. They are distractions from the best things.

3. People are the only things that matter, as far as how we live our days here. I'm not going to elaborate much on that one, except to say it's slapped me upside the head.

4. Keep a full tank. You never know when an emergency will arise, or when someone will need you, so keep a full tank. In the car, in your soul and in your spirit. Be ready at all times.

5. Keeping order in the home makes everything easier. Whether it's physical order or having obedient and respectful children. This is huge. I've kept myself at home a lot because my kids can be difficult to manage at times. Therefore, I haven't focused on friendships the way I'd like to. That's just not okay (see number 3). I've also wasted tremendous amounts of time looking for socks and matching shoes...why is that so hard?

6. If there are people or things you would give your life for, then live for those things. It's rare that anyone ever has to make a life-and-death choice, but we have a choice every day to live for the people and things we say are important (faith, family, friends).

7. Push through the awkward. Whatever that is. If there are things you need to do or say, if God is leading you to do or say something that feels awkward, do or say it anyway. Don't let the moment pass because it is hard to recapture. Tell people what's in your heart. For me that's way difficult, but it's too important to give myself permission to keep things inside that need to be said. So if I say something to you that sounds, um, a little crazy or off-the-wall, but heart-felt, just know I mean well ;)

8. Live life with no regrets. Leave it all on the field. Work out issues in relationships.

12.08.2011

Victory

There is a great one-liner in our LIFE study guide (this is a life-changing Bible study Church of the Highlands offers as a small group). It says, "we are fighting FROM victory, not TO victory." That perspective is essential to overcoming any battle we face. Although on the surface it appears that we fight the battle of sickness in our body, we actually fight it in our souls and spirits. Even secular psychology tells us what a difference it makes when a person has a positive outlook and faith in God.

I am NOT saying we don't use doctors, or medicine. It's foolish not to take advantage of the wisdom that's been revealed to the medical community. What I AM saying can be stated best in this (loose) quote from Neil Anderson:

"It's not what happens to us, it's how we perceive what happens and what we believe as a result of the things that happen to us."

Anytime we face trouble, those of us that follow Christ must remind ourselves that we fight from a position of having already won. There is nothing that can overtake us.

"I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all." (Ephesians 1:18-23 NASB)

Did you hear that? Did you really hear it? Did you ingest it? Has this truth become yours? ALL things are in subjection, under His feet, and He is given to the Church, His body, in that capacity.

Now, what about you?

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:4-7 NASB)

You, believer, are also seated with Christ. That is your position, which might sound strange. You are obviously still here, not in heaven. It's not about physical position, it's this kind of seat: 1. A place in which something belongs, or is established; 2. A right to admittance to such a space; 3. A place where administrative power or the like is centered.

What those two passages tell us is this: if all things are in submission to Christ, under His feet, then you my friend share in that authority. You share in that position; therefore, you have already won whatever battles you face.

I sat behind Summer last night during our First Wednesday service, and watched her worship with a smile on her face and with obvious peace. Even though I could also see that she was in pain. That is what it is to understand your position. My friend, Mary Lauren, is being induced this morning and will soon welcome her third precious child into the world. After having a challenging induction once before, which ended in a c-section, there can naturally be nerves related to that.

In both of those situations, the real fight isn't in the body. It's in the soul. We draw from our spirit for strength...there is a well that never runs dry there. If we look outside, or to people who operate in fear and anxiety, we are done. The battle is the Lord's. Know where you are seated. Walk in that knowledge. Then stand firm. Or as Watchman knee said,

SIT. WALK. STAND.

12.07.2011

Faith and Tears

This isn't going to be much of a post. I have to confess that I woke up this morning to discover that my big girl pants had fallen off overnight. But, you know what? The presence of tears is not the absence of faith. We are to bear one another's burdens and we suffer when our loved ones suffer. In that God is glorified. I have seen Him in the midst of a stage three cancer diagnosis. I have seen Him in the supernatural grace and peace that is upholding Summer and Jeremy. I have seen Him in the response of the body of Christ over the last several months leading up to this. I have seen Him and believe I will continue to see Him in greater measure. I'm standing in faith, tears and all, knowing that our hope is not in an outcome, but it's in a person. In fact it is a person. The only source of lasting hope is God...Yahweh...Jehovah...Jesus, the creator of all things, Who holds all things together and Who sits interceding for us, day and night. I'm standing there. And I'm not moving.

10.03.2011

Restoration Revisited

This post is a re-run of a post from last December. It's been on my mind, so I thought I would share it again. It is a bit rough, but usually when I write there is a lot of distraction in my house, so concentration doesn't come easy :)

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I am processing through something I heard this weekend at the LIFE retreat. Tricia Gunn referred to the passage in Luke 7 (it's in other places, too), where the "sinful woman" anoints Jesus. She breaks open a very expensive - like a years' wages expensive - jar of perfume and washes His feet with it. What Tricia said about this has stuck in my mind - she said "the money she earned to buy this perfume, she earned lying on her back." And then she basically said that every time she gave herself to a man she gave away a piece of herself, but when she poured out what she had on Jesus, she was restored. He knew what she was and He knew how she got that perfume, but He did not turn her away or turn from her. In fact, He holds her up as an example and says that everywhere the gospel is preached, her story would also be told.

I have found it to be true that the very things I have done in my past that have caused me shame are also the things that, when brought to light and brought before the throne of God, have given me a greater sense of love and acceptance. As long as we try to hide ourselves from God and cover our shame, it is as though we have made camp in a garbage dump. We sit huddled with the mess we've found ourselves in. The only way to be free of something is to give it to someone else. It's like the clutter I am constantly battling to be rid of - I can hang onto it, or I can give it to Goodwill. Even better I can give it to the garbage collectors. But a decision has to be made...hello, it's GARBAGE!

And the same goes for the junk in our soul (mind and emotions). If we want to be rid of guilt and shame or anger or whatever garbage we live with every day, we have to give it to someone else...and that someone isn't your spouse or kids because they can't handle your junk, either. God the Father is the one who stands ready, and really He has already taken it. Once you have chosen to belong to Him - and it is a choice and anyone can make that choice - the only power the past has over you is the power you give it.

Several months ago God showed me that I had been hiding from Him. Even though I knew in my mind that I was forgiven, I still felt a "yuck" that I couldn't shake and so I tried to hide, as though one could hide from Him. It not only blocked that relationship, but it was blocking other relationships - with Dave, with friends, etc. And that was the power my past had over me. I gave it the power to keep me in shame, until, in a moment of time, God put His finger on it and said, "That's not who you are. I have given you a new name." I had to bring it to Him, be honest about what I had done, about who I had been, and let Him speak the truth to me. It was life-changing. You can do that, too...and you don't have to sit in the dumpster as long as I did.

The cool thing is that what I feared - being exposed - was exactly what I needed to be free. And it is what He has used to make me a better servant to people. It drives me to love others. It moves me with compassion. Last night I saw "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader." Without too much background, because this post is long enough already, a boy named Eustace (how horrible for him) had been turned into a dragon. It happened because he gave in to a temptation, even though he had been told temptation was coming...he was weak and so he gave in. There was nothing he could do on his own to change.

In that disappointing state, feeling stuck and feeling sorrow for where he ended up, his destiny to do extraordinary things had not changed. In fact it was exactly because of what he had done, and because he was a dragon that could fly, that he was able to be in a position to be the hero in the story and be used to put all things right. Did that mean what he did was okay? No. Why, then? Because he came to a place of repentance (he turned away from sin toward God). When he met Aslan face to face, suffering the consequences of his sin, he was "healed." In the movie Aslan drew in the sand with His paw and roared a giant lion roar. The dragon scales were blown off and Eustace became a boy again. He became what he always was...the boy that was inside the dragon, but couldn't get free on his own.

My mind instantly went to the story in the gospels of the woman caught in an adulterous situation. Short and sweet, the woman was dragged out, Jesus drew in the sand and said he who is without sin can cast the first stone. No one hung around to condemn her, and He said, "I don't condemn you either, go and sin no more." That's what happened to Eustace. He was confronted by the savior, in his sin...he was caught red-handed, so to speak...no hiding it...and was healed and restored. And his destiny had not changed. He could still be great in the kingdom.

God can build off of your past, whatever it is, whether it's things you did or things other people did to you. You can't change the past, but He can make your foundation strong, building on those things, IF you bring it all to Him. He starts where you are, not where you "should" be. He can take garbage and make it treasure, but we have to choose that. Choose it. Please. There is nothing like being seen for who you really are and knowing that you are loved and cherished, despite all.

** One detail I left out when I wrote this is that I was at a church retreat when I saw that I had been living in a constant feeling of shame. For several years I had wanted to be water baptized (we fully immerse at our church), but hadn't done it yet, primarily because I was already baptized (sprinkled) when I was 12 and I felt like I would be discounting that. Or that people would assume I hadn't been a Christian before. But on this day I knew I needed to do it...it was a sign of a fresh start for me. And it was life-changing. I cannot explain it, but it's as if something was actually washed away in that water, and I have been different ever since. This Wednesday night, at our first Wednesday service, we are offering water baptism. If you've got baggage, had baggage, if you've been thinking you'd like to make a fresh start or you've just never done it before, then do it! Bring some extra clothes and don't think twice! You will not regret it.

9.14.2011

Broken

We got back a few days ago from a fabulous trip to Orange Beach with the kids. This is the time of year to go, for sure. Beautiful weather, temperatures in the low-to-mid-80s, low crowds - perfection. For once I wasn't ready to leave when the time came. If you've travelled with young children, you know that, sometimes, it's just time for vacation to be over and everyone knows it. It's time to go home and spread out, because you've been on top of one another and in each other's space for too long. I did finally see a little bit of that on the ride home, but otherwise it was a lot of fun, and much needed.

Sunday morning I went out for an early morning walk on the beach. For whatever reason the beach was littered with shells this weekend, so I was looking down as I walked, looking for some pretty ones to add to the collection. [Side note, be careful what you keep when shell hunting. I did find one ginormous periwinkle-looking shell - it was like 4" x 10" - that I brought back to the condo; however, it had a little bit of whatever had lived inside it before, and it quickly started to stank. Not stink, but stank. It was raunchy, so it stayed at the beach. Check shells for inhabitants before removing them from the beach.]

Anyway, the beach was littered with shells this weekend, and as I was looking and deciding which ones were collection-worthy, I saw one that looked perfect, but when I picked it up I saw that it was missing some pieces, so I put it down and thought, "Bummer, I wish it wasn't broken." Really, I probably said it out loud, because I tend to talk to myself, and answer myself. If you know me, you already knew that ;)

When I said that to myself, I believe God entered my self-conversation, and told me that He really likes the broken ones. And I thought about the parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15. Luke 15:7 says, "I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent." He doesn't look for the perfect ones at all, but He searches out and rejoices over the lost, broken ones.

Of course, I said, well that's because you can fix them...I can't fix a broken shell. I would have to look at the broken shells, and they aren't pretty. And that's really about how I feel sometimes, honestly. God has put a desire in my heart to love broken people, but at the same time there are some selfish things that need to be worked out. And truth be told we are all broken. It's nothing to hide or be ashamed of. In fact, the longer you hide it, the longer you have to live with it. Shame thrives in darkness, but freedom comes in the light (honesty, in this case).

He has also put within me a love for taking things that are old, and worn out, and making them "new" again (notice I said I love it, I didn't say I was great at it :). Or repurposing things...giving them new purpose, new value. It's a holy thing to take something that was meant to be beautiful, that has been abused or worn out, and restore it.

And I'm not talking about furniture, I'm talking about you. Where are you broken? Don't hide it. God doesn't turn away from things the way we do. Not that He approves of sin, but He isn't afraid of it, or grossed out by it in a child that is ready to be free from it - and He's seen it all. There's nothing new. Anyone who wants to be restored can be. He is really good at redefining, repurposing and recreating. Go ahead, try it and see.

8.28.2011

On my mind...

This passage of scripture, from 1 Corinthians, Chapter 3, has been on my mind...

"For you are still [unspiritual, having the nature] of the flesh. For as long as [there are] envying and jealousy and factions among you, are you not unspiritual and of the flesh, behaving yourselves after a human standard and like mere (unchanged) men? For when one says, I belong to Paul, and another, I belong to Apollos, are you not [proving yourselves] ordinary (unchanged) men?  What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Ministering servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord appointed to each his task:  I planted, Apollos watered, but God was making it grow and gave the increase. So neither he who plants is anything nor he who waters, but [only] God Who makes it grow and become greater."

I wish churches, individual fellowships of believers, could get this. So much more could be accomplished if we didn't feel the need to claim that our pastor is the best, that we have all the right answers and that we are the best. In saying we, I mean the church at large, not any one church. I just wish there was more unity, respect and cooperation.

I don't care where you go to church, so long as it's Biblically solid, and it's serving and loving people (not that it matters what I think, but I'm just saying). Let's not be childish, unchanged people.

There. I feel better. ;)

8.23.2011

Look Who's Talking

These are some of Baby's favorite words right now (this would be Christopher, but he gets called Baby more often than not):

The Words With Translation



Kickee - Cookie



Cuck - Truck



Cuck - Cup (context clues are essential around here)



Coocoocle - Motorcycle



Bite - Bite



Bite - Bike



Bup - Bus



Moooowa - More



Peeeeeee - Please (in the sweetest voice ever)



Poon - Spoon



Poon (while pointing at the cabinet) - I want peanut butter on a spoon



Baw - Ball



Ba - Bottle (yes, he still drinks milk from a bottle)



Therthy - Thirsty



Caycake - Pancake



Yeahhhh - Yeah, yes, okay, yes I want some of that, sounds great



MaMA - Mama (emphasizing the second syllable)



Nite nite - His blanket



Thzzzzzzz - Cheese



Thzz it - Cheez-Its



Yayee - Stroller ride...no idea why



Yayee - Caeley

Da-yee - Daddy



You see a theme? Most are food related, no surprise. The boy loves to eat.





8.12.2011

More Riley-isms

More Riley-isms - I have to keep up with this stuff ;)

Does God eat the food in my tummy or smoothies or what? "Why?" I ask. Well, He lives in my tummy and there's food in there.

Do bees burp?

I don't want Baby to be a daddy one day, because I love Christopher. I want him to stay a baby.

I wish you got two chips for being mean. It's hard to be nice! (re: the poker chip reward system)

I love my baby moth...let's give him a hug and kiss!

Yes, I am in charge!

I am in charge of baby.

Mom, Corban is not obeying meeeeeee!

Mom, you are not obeying meeeeeee!

Daddy is a lifetime thinker. He's always thinking about things, so he's a lifetime thinker.

I wish I had a Smurf (which sounds more like Smurp).I don't have any pets and I want a Smurf.












7.14.2011

Salt

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Part 1 - Salt

This is a very familiar passage of scripture found in Matthew 5, and I've been thinking about it a lot. It tells us - followers of Christ - that in relation to the world, we are salt and light. It says that's what we are, not what we can be...we are, present tense, indicative mood...a simple statement of fact.

Salt is both a preservative and a seasoning, but in the context here, it's clearly referring to it's taste, not it's ability to preserve. How many times have you eaten something and said, "It needs a little salt?" Whenever a dish is lacking in flavor, salt is almost always what it needs. It is added to cookies to enhance the sweetness, and it's added to vegetables to make them tolerable. I mean, really, you can manage to eat just about anything, if you can add a little salt.

The verse says, what good is salt if it loses it's flavor? It's good for nothing. Here's the thing: pure salt can't lose it's flavor. It's salt, so it's salty. It's a mineral, not a spice that comes from plants and whose flavor does fade over time. Salt can lose it's flavor, however, if it becomes contaminated with something.

If we are salt, then we need to be used as such. We keep our salt in a salt shaker. It's salty in there, alright, but useless until it's poured out, bringing flavor to whatever it touches. Until then it's just a shaker filled with potential. I feel that our churches are much the same. As long as we stay contained inside our buildings, doing the Jesus thing during designated hours of the week, we are potential flavor in a bottle, never poured out for the world.

I don't know if you've noticed, but the world can be a very tasteless, intolerable place. A little salt would go a long way. A smile, a little conversation, an extra tip for the waitress, some yard work for a single mom, a little elbow grease for an elderly person, clothing for someone in need, a judgment-free hot meal for the homeless, and I could go on and on. Salt.

You are salt. I am salt. If we aren't making a difference in the world, then I see at least two things that could be the problem: one, we just aren't carrying our faith outside the church building; two, we are contaminated.

We live in an environment full of contaminants. If we don't guard our hearts, that stuff gets in, watering down our flavor, and then we taste just like everything else. We blend in, no noticeable difference. Self-centeredness is probably the biggest contaminate, and shows up through materialism, fear, trying to fit in, even being "relevant" to the point that you are no different - you've just added Jesus, and maybe you're a little nicer. Well, I don't know about you, but if I am salting my green beans, I don't want to add more green bean flavor...I want something different. I want salt. Ask God to show you if there is anything contaminating your life - that's His job, not mine. I'm just encouraging you to think about it.

I know I have a long way to go, but this is what motivates me to reach people. He re-created me for this. You, too. We really can make a difference in the world we live in...wherever we find ourselves planted in it. This Saturday, July 16, is a great opportunity to love people in Auburn. If you live here and want to serve, meet us at Church of the Highlands at 8:00, and we will help you find a place to serve. I am praying that this becomes a lifestyle for us, as a church body.

7.13.2011

Progress

**I realize this is a "lightweight" post. These are the kinds of projects I do when I am processing the bigger things in life.**

Progress is happening in the living room. The USB cable for the camera is missing, so I had to resort to Instagram to take a picture...which means things look even more monochromatic than they really are. One day maybe these walls will get painted, but for now I'm happy.

Again I wish there was a before picture, so you could fully appreciate the difference. It was so thrown together, haphazard and wires were showing everywhere.

The bookshelf is almost finished. There are two shelves that need painting, then it will be done. Somehow it always seems like there is some little detail of a project that is left undone. I won't leave it that way for long this time.






This was an old mirror that I got for free at a thrift store. I removed the glass, which looked terrible and turned it into a chalkboard, where I can write not-so-subliminal messages to my kids.


This is a napkin I found at World Market...I bought two of them. They will be a pillows. Eventually.





Next is to deal with the furniture. We have no less than four different fabrics happening in there. Serious visual clutter. I'm seriously considering an attempt at making my own slipcovers. Pray for me.









6.27.2011

Tree Star Smoothies!

I don't know how your kids are, if you have any, or how you are (because you might be a picky eater, too), but mine won't touch anything of the green vegetable variety of food. Or any other color for that matter. So I found a great recipe for a healthy green spinach smoothie here.

I wasn't sure how it would go over, or if they (meaning Riley) would even try it, but they did and they loved it! And I decided that for our purposes, they would be called Tree Star Smoothies - my kids are hooked on the Land Before Time movies. They have no idea there is spinach in it, and I have issued a gag order for Dave and Caeley. They cannot know there is spinach in there until they are like 20.

So, the moral of this story is, if you or a child you know are picky and lacking balanced nutrition, then try this! One caveat, if you don't like bananas you might not dig it. Otherwise, give it a try!

THE END.

5.31.2011

A Little Light Reading

I'm doing a little light reading this morning, from Ignatius' (he was a student of the apostle, John) letter to the Magnesians (I have no idea who they were, but I wonder if they invented Milk of...nah). If you're a follower of Christ and have never read the writings of the early church fathers, maybe you should consider doing so. I always thought of them as the fathers of the Roman Catholic Church, and since I am not catholic, I never considered reading them. But guess what...if they are RCC fathers, they are mine, too, since we all came from the same root.

Anyway, I was reading a few minutes ago and came across this:

Now it becomes you also not to treat your bishop too familiarly on account of his youth, but to yield him all reverence, having respect to the power of God the Father, as I have known even holy presbyters do, not judging rashly, from the manifest youthful appearance [of their bishop], but as being themselves prudent in God, submitting to him, or rather not to him, but to the Father of Jesus Christ, the bishop of us all. It is therefore fitting that you should, after no hypocritical fashion, obey [your bishop], in honour of Him who has willed us [so to do], since he that does not so deceives not [by such conduct] the bishop that is visible, but seeks to mock Him that is invisible. And all such conduct has reference not to man, but to God, who knows all secrets.

It goes on to talk about Daniel, Solomon, Josiah, Timothy, etc, who were all young, but very wise and godly.

The bottom line is that if we argue with, complain against, our pastor (they said bishop), then it isn't him we do that with, but God Himself. He is the true authority and He tells us to respect our authority(ies) on the earth, and in so doing, we respect Him. And the warning here is in the context of a young pastor, because Ignatius, and Paul, knew that youth doesn't always get respect.

This strikes me today simply because we do have a young pastor, and I can see how it would be easy to treat him "too familiarly" and forget he is answerable to God for this body of believers, and that he is in charge. A good word for me this morning.

5.16.2011

Need I Say More?

I've had this saying in my mind for a long time and have been wanting to put it up somewhere in the house. It needs some touching up, but whatever. Really, I think it needs no explanation. This sign is as much a reminder for me as it is for anything else. We have a home...with real people inside. And children...two preschoolers (well, technically, one preschooler and a kindergartener!)...a toddler...and a teenager. Oh, and two parents...one slightly messier than the other - but I won't say which one...pleading the 5th on that. All this adds up to mess. The bottom line is that I would rather enjoy myself, and them, than try to maintain perfection. Note to self: repeat that last statement often.

5.11.2011

What if...

Well, hello!! I haven't blogged in a while - haven't had time. In fact, I'm wondering how I ever had time before. Not that I have a great track record, but I did have a pretty good run recently.

I don't even know where to begin. Should I try to play catch up? Or should I just begin at, say, today? Hmmmm...

I guess I'll start with a small update and then we'll see how much time I have left. Some of you may recall the post from November, where I wrote about the run-in I had at Walmart with the elderly woman who said this to me:

"I believe that whenever I do a kindness for someone, I increase His [insert, "God's"] glory."

I felt that it was significant at the time and the beginning of a shift in thinking for me. And it was. Following that I also read a book called, "Interrupted," by Jen Hatmaker (I recommend it) which furthered this shift. Over the years I have loved studying scripture, talking about it, learning new things related to it...but I discovered that I wasn't always living the things I knew in my head.

I lacked compassion...there was truth without grace. That was what changed...God awakened a place in my heart that was sleeping. The desire to be kind, defend the helpless and see justice done has always been there, just ignored due to my own insecurity and self-centeredness.

But I cannot ignore it anymore. There are images burned in my mind that I can't bear to even think about. For instance, the picture I saw of an African boy holding his sibling, a toddler. My 18-month old is what you might call, "juicy." Fat legs, fat behind...so cute. But this child was so emaciated that he had NO bottom at all. It was just totally flat. I've never seen anything like that before.

I've never seen a brothel in Thailand or India in person, but in my mind I see children hiding under their mother's beds while they "work." I watched an MSNBC special on human trafficking in Thailand, and the children being prostituted were as young as 5 years old. FIVE. And do you know that American men are some of their best clients? Absolutely wicked. There are people enslaved on our own soil, in the United States of America...Land of the Free. Oh, and we are also "The Home of the Brave." We need to act like it and stop allowing these things to go on.

Something I saw that seems a little less tragic, but that really sent me over the edge, was this. I was folding laundry one day and turned on the TV. Let me say I NEVER watch MTV, I despise it, but this one day I saw that "16 and Pregnant," was on. For whatever reason I decided to check it out...see what kind of garbage it was.

There was a 16 year old girl (duh! - from here on out known as Mama) that had just had a baby boy. The Baby Daddy visited at the hospital, gave Mama a kiss goodbye, and left. A week later Mama still hadn't seen Daddy come around. He hadn't called, checked on the baby...nothing. Meanwhile, Mama is whining and wanting to go out partying and doesn't understand why her mother won't take care of the baby. She's acting like this baby is in her way, she doesn't have time for this, she wants to have a life, yada, yada. So, she goes to a drunkfest and takes the baby with her.

That all happened in the first five minutes and by then I was so mad I couldn't take any more, and I was yelling at the TV. So I turned it off. They kept showing that baby's sweet little face, and all I could think of was 10 or 15 years down the road, when they play him the video of the time Mama was on MTV. Haha, funny...til he hears how in the way he was and how selfish Mama was.

I know, she's only 16, and immature, and honestly I wasn't the best parent when I had my first child at 22 years old. But, what I wanted to do, was contact MTV, find out where this girl lives, and ask her if I could please come get her baby and raise him myself. It broke my heart. I was actually surprised at how much.

It happened to be on the first Wednesday of the month and we have a worship service at our church that day. Well, I cried through the entire thing...not like a few tears dripping, but like that embarrassing ugly cry. I couldn't stop thinking of that baby boy...then I started thinking about that severely emaciated child, then all those children caught in the sex trade.

You might say I was a little overwhelmed. It's a bit much to think about. And I began to ask God why, and where are you? And I begged Him to somehow let them know He loves them. I guess I was thinking He might could sprinkle some love dust over them, I don't know. But what He said back changed me (if you're not sure that He speaks, just start listening...He does).

When I asked Him to let them know He loved them, He said this:

"That's what you are there for. You do it."


Talk about floodgates opening...oh my gosh, I have been missing it. While I have been in self-protect mode, people around me are seriously suffering and I have been looking the other way.


So, now what...go change the world? It is completely overwhelming to think about trying to change the world. And guess what - I can't change the whole world. But I can look for opportunities to change one person's world. Neighborhoods, cities and nations are changed one person at a time. There are people in need in so many ways. There are hurts of all kinds...some obvious, some hidden.

The question is, who can I help today? Who can you help today? What if we (the church) quit picking at each other for our differences, and acted like a body? Every cell of every part in motion, fulfilling it's purpose...whatever it is. Hands, feet, eyes, mouth, ears...what if?

4.14.2011

For My Fan

It's been a while since my last post and since my fan is clamoring for a blog update, here's what has been happening at the Pittman house:

1. The usual - Life has been busy, especially as Christopher has become super mobile. I cannot turn my back for a minute, with all the things he and Corban get into. Christopher is constantly looking for something to eat. No matter what else he is doing, he stops every few minutes or so to check out the kitchen table. It's hilarious to watch, and if there is something on the table, he begins circling to find a way to get to it. Before long he'll be able to reach the middle of the table so nothing will be safe.

BUT, I much prefer him eating food from the table to the things he was eating. In a given day I would find him chewing on the bulb in his night light (only Jesus could have kept it from shattering), gnawing on the decorative coals in the fireplace, and trying to eat anything else small enough to fit in his mouth, including ping pong balls.

Corban's current obsessions are the following: toothpaste, lotion, hand soap, bath soap, running the sink water, flooding the bathroom, markers, the key to the deadbolt, and mints from church. He spends the better part of each day concerned about where the key is and scouring my bedroom/bathroom for stray mints. He's learned to lock and unlock the door, so he will lock himself in to buy time to search for candy, while I am fiddling with the lock to get the door open. So far, no amount of disciplinary action has helped. What is in those little white mints??

2. Pest control -

The kids and I were outside - they were playing and I was getting some flower pots ready for planting. Christopher and I were under the deck and when I turned over my big urn, lo and behold there was a little snake...a now coiled up little snake. Baby C was only about a foot and a half away from it, and I freaked out. I dropped the urn back over it and snatched Baby up.

There was no way I could let my kids play outside knowing that thing was out there, so I had no choice but to exterminate it. I went inside and put on some jeans and my black and white polka dotted rain boots, now snake boots, and determined to kill it. I got out a shovel and a pick axe thing, and flipped over the urn, hopping up and down all the while. It was hiding inside the lip of the pot so I had to force it out. I so hope the neighbors were not outside...certainly they weren't because if they were, I feel sure someone would have checked on me. I was making so much noise trying to work up the nerve to kill it - squawking and squealing - I'm surprised it didn't have a heart attack.

Anyway, three different shovels later, I had chopped its head off. It was awful! According to Bear Grylls on Man vs Wild, you are supposed to bury their heads, but that wasn't going to cut it. So we flushed it. Move over Proverbs 31 woman...I didn't see snake wrangling on her list ;)

And I wish I could show you the video clip, or the cute pictures of Christopher on table patrol, but they are on my iPad and I can't figure out how to move the files to the computer. Which means I will have to read some instructions...blech...and then after wasting a considerable amount of time on it, I'll probably discover that it's impossible. As a side note, the camera on iPad2 is not fabulous. I guess that leaves them something to upgrade for iPad3. Thank you Steve.

There's more to say, with more depth and importance, but my energy for today is zapped...so nite nite. I hope my fan is appeased by this morsel of an update.

3.19.2011

Thinking...about not much of anything

Random things I am thinking about...

1. I wish I didn't let my mood swing on a pendulum. I hate it when I am having a good day and then it all changes because one thing happened that, in the grand scheme of life, doesn't matter.

2. I am loving the new Passion CD. I'm stuck on the fountain song and Spirit Fall. All My Fountains sounds like a fun song to play, if only I knew how to play guitar.

3. I'm loving my new iPad, and am realizing that it's a good thing I don't have the 3G version because I would be a useless human being.

4. Right now I'm realizing how loud my dishwasher is. Ridiculous.

5. The whole business with Rob Bell's new book got me thinking. I find it interesting that Jesus taught "over the heads" of the intellectuals of His day by teaching on the level of the average uneducated man. The simplicity of the gospel is sometimes too complicated for people...they want to over think, or overexplain it, and that just isn't necessary (sometimes I'm the one over thinking it). My opinion.

6. I haven't been feeling well again lately (my stomach). I'm trying leaving milk out of my diet for a while to see if that helps, but I really hope I'm not allergic to it. So far it isn't helping so we'll see.

7. I've decided that The Cock of the Walk has the best fried catfish in town. We tried another restaurant yesterday because COTW is closed
for lunch, and I didn't like it. When I eat catfish at COTW I can't even tell I'm eating fish, and that's a good thing.

8. I wish this thing (my iPad) had an arrow button to move down the page because it's way hard to scroll down to the bottom inside this little box I'm typing in on blogger. I can't figure out how to scroll inside of it.

9. I would really love a road trip right now...not sure where to, but I don't think that part matters. I've just got itchy feet.

10. I love these two new cookbooks I found...Not Your Mothers Slow Cooker cookbook and Not Your Mothers Casseroles. They have tons of recipes that don't include cans of cream of whatever soup and a lot of the other processed ingredients you usually find in recipes. There are some unique recipes in there, too, which I like.

11. The most ingenious thing to me is the recipe for oven pancakes. You just make the batter, pour it in a jelly roll pan and cook it for 15 minutes...no being stuck at the griddle flipping cakes. I can pop that in the oven and focus on scrambled eggs and bacon or whatever else I am making, and everything can be done at the same time. I always manage to burn the eggs when I try to cook them while I'm flipping pancakes.

12. Does anybody care what random things I am thinking about ;)

13. I can't think anymore, it's time to veg.

14. Had to come back and add one more. I know tonight is a supermoon and it's the closest it will ever get, and all that, but...I can't tell any difference whatsoever. Maybe I should have been out there when it first "rose." Obviousy I have missed something.

15. I'm wondering if I stole the title to this post from someone, sub-consciously. I was sitting in church and all of a sudden I thought, I think I've heard that title somewhere before. If I did don't be mad at me...I've checked the usual blogs I read, but haven't found the person I may or may not have plagiarized. Oh well.

3.16.2011

Bedtime Routines

So, people with kids - I want to know what your bedtime routines are. I always hear beautiful stories about reading together and singing and bath and prayers, and kids in bed early. What I want to know, in all seriousness, is what does it look like logistically? Like, how do you cook dinner, clean up the kitchen and do all that bonding stuff and get the kids to bed at a decent time? Give me the schedule...please ;) For real.
I'm not kidding...if you have a good routine I want to hear about it and how you pull it off.

3.07.2011

If We've Ever Needed You...

Hear our cry, Lord, we pray
Our faces down, our hands are raised
You called us out, we turned away
We've turned away

With shipwrecked faith the idols rise
We do what is right in our own eyes
Our children now will pay the price
We need Your light, Lord, shine Your light

If we've ever needed You
Lord, it's now, Lord, it's now
We are desperate for Your hand
We're reaching out, we're reaching out


These are some of the lyrics to Casting Crown's, "If We've Ever Needed You" (I hope they are accurate, I cut and pasted from the web). I think the chorus points out what the root problem is, and I am in no way knocking the song, but we have a faulty way of thinking. Well, I should probably say a faulty way of living, because we "know" the right answers.

One of our biggest problems, as I see it, is that we are not aware of our constant need of God. It's only when we have trouble that we turn and say, "I need you." The truth is that we are never more, or less, in need of God. We might have times that we are more, or less, aware of it, but the need is always there.

I believe that where we get in trouble is that when things are good, we drift along thinking we're doing a pretty good job managing our lives, not acknowledging the One who gives us the breath of life each day. Who knows how much He intervenes on our behalf (behalves? ;) daily? The hardest thing to do, to me, is to stay connected when life is good...no one has trouble staying near to God when life is hard. What I mean is, we seek Him more readily, even if we don't necessarily have an awareness of His nearness to us. We do our part.

That's why God said in Deuteronomy (to the people about to enter the Promised Land):

When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery...You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.

There are other passages of scripture, too, that make it clear that destruction follows when we forget God...and that tends only to happen when life is good. I like it when life is good. I like my Life is Good stickers. And my coffee cups. But God help me to stay grounded, focused and close when things are great so that I don't have to work so hard when things get difficult. There's a lot less ground to cover when you've never left the throne room.

3.05.2011

First Boo-boo

Christopher got his first big boo-boo yesterday. He did a faceplant in the driveway, and apparently only cried for about 30 seconds. I think I handled it pretty well. I had gone to pick Riley up from school and when I pulled into the driveway I saw Dave holding Christopher with blood trickling from his nose. It was a bit shocking at first, but I didn't flip out...probably because I wasn't here to see it happen and, therefore, replay it over and over in my mind.

It doesn't seem to bother him at all - not even when I cleaned it and put medicine on it.


Looks like an ad for Band-Aid...totally unplanned. He was digging in a drawer when I took the picture and happened to pull out this box.

I think this next one is completely appropriate for someone who has faceplanted...he looks angry. But he's not, really. This is him preparing for the retina searing flash that he knows his coming.

He's a big boy...guess I had better get used to this.

3.04.2011

And Such Were Some of You

"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

This passage is set in the context of believers bringing lawsuits against other believers. There were two main issues Paul brought up:

1. They were trying to settle disputes outside the church in front of 'secular' courts of law, and
2. That there were lawsuits in the first place was an indication of a problem.

I can't claim to know exactly what Paul was thinking, but I can tell you what struck me about the part I highlighted in bold, "And that is what some of you were." He told them that it would be better to allow themselves to be wronged than bring a lawsuit...also that some of them were actually the wrongdoers.

I can picture this letter being read aloud to the church at Corinth. Surely there would have been some in the crowd that when it was read that the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, etc., wouldn't inherit the kingdom, that would have said "yeah, uh-huh, preach it pastor, that's right," until he then read, "and such were some of you." "Oh." What more could be said? "Oh. Yeah. That's right. I forgot." Silence.

I know, I know, He removes our sin and casts it as far as the east is from the west. But that doesn't mean we are to forget...we aren't to hold on to shame or guilt, but if we forget what we once were, then we will become short on grace for other people. It is much easier for me to forgive, and look past outward failures or habits, when I remember what I once was. I don't have to think about it very long, and I manage to find some grace for the other person.

This is like fresh news to me today. Mind you, it isn't easy, but we are called to be slow to anger, patient and kind, remembering that it is the kindness of the Lord that leads to repentance. Oh yeah. That's right. I forgot.

2.15.2011

Valentines Day

So, yesterday was Valentines Day (or Singles Awareness Day, depending on your current "season"). Dave and I have yet to celebrate together - so far he has been on dates with Riley, on Saturday, and Caeley, on Sunday. I had to get in line, so tonight it's my turn. We are pretty low key - usually not extravagant with our gifts. In fact, I am giving Dave the usual "gift of nothing." That's what he appreciates, so that's what he gets for most occasions. I don't really appreciate the "gift of nothing," though, so who knows what he came up with.

I guess Valentines Day is really just another day, but I think it's fun to celebrate and remind people that they are loved; although, that should happen all the time.

We had V-Day dinner with the kids last night. I put a candle in the middle of the table with the Valentines from their grandparents around it. I made some heart decorations and hung them from the chandelier (a term I use loosely) above the kitchen table.



I also hand-made them Valentines - this is very unusual for me, you must know. But it was fun using scrapbook paper and scalloped scissors and glue - it was like kindergarten revisited. I should do that more often. Here's Corban's, on his plate


I even made one for Dave (I made one for myself, too, because if I hadn't someone would have fussed at Daddy for not making Mommy one...and he was innocent and didn't know I was doing all this, so I just cut that off at the pass). Dave's has a picture that Riley drew of our family a couple of days ago


I think I'm in there somewhere - probably the one off to the side, that kind of looks like she's laying down. Riley must know Mommy is tired.

For dinner we had the perfect special meal for my kids: chocolate chip pancakes with whipped cream!! There were scrambled eggs, too, but who wants those when you've got chocolate and whipped cream for dinner (except Corban who does not like whipped cream - how is that possible)? Dave and I ate the chicken I cooked earlier in the day because I needed real food.

I did, however, eat one pancake for dessert...along with a couple of the free truffles from Earthfare...they are so good and they melt in your mouth. But that's not important right now ;) The kids were fascinated with the candle and they were left unattended briefly. They decided to blow it out, thankfully, because otherwise they may have been tempted to burn stuff. Instead of burning stuff, they decided to drop their leftover eggs in there, and the wax began to harden around said eggs. That's just gross - Dave dug them out, though, so now the candle looks jacked up. But, I'll take that over a fire breaking out.

All in all it was really the perfect way to celebrate the day, with all my loves, big and little. I am a blessed woman, in so many ways.

Now, I'm off to eat a truffle, for blessed is she who eats chocolate. I'm pretty sure that's in the Bible somewhere ;)

2.14.2011

Chicken: The Recipe


Okay, the chicken turned out so good...it was tender and juicy - and so tasty, too. Sorry, flashback to Vitameatavegemin. Anyway, here is the recipe if you're interested. I will be making this again.

The Rub:
4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 whole chicken (with pop-up timer if possible)

I didn't have any white pepper so I just added a dash more black. It's got a little kick to it, so you might want to use less cayenne if you're not a fan.

Pat the chicken dry and rub the above recipe all over it. I smashed four or five cloves of garlic and put them inside the cavity of the chicken.

Cook in a preheated oven at 500 (where is the degree symbol?) for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 450 and cook another 15 minutes. Baste with juices and reduce heat to 425. Cook for 30 minutes, or to an internal temp of 180. Let chicken rest for 15 minutes before serving (it will be very tired). Sorry, bad joke.

I don't know how to properly slice a chicken so I pretty much mangled mine, but it was yummy so who cares how it looked? I think I'm going to shred the leftovers for chicken tacos tomorrow. I've got a great recipe for that, too.

Good night and happy roasting!

Chicken

One of my favorite places to grocery shop is Earthfare - and one of the things I love most is the freebies they give away. Last week I got a coupon for a free whole chicken, a bag of baby carrots and mashed potatoes. Yay...except I have never cooked a whole chicken in my life. I decided to go ahead and cook it for lunch today and I found what appears to be a good recipe for a rub.

I do not, I repeat, not, like handling raw meat of any kind. If you feel that way, too, then these are a must in your kitchen. I bought 1,000 of them at Sams for about $5.00, I think.


I put on my raw meat touching gloves and opened up the chicken. I have heard that you must remove any giblets from the inside, so I looked in and saw something really nasty. According to the label on the front, some of my giblet parts may be missing - bummer ;) Anyway, I had at least some spare parts, but I could not bring myself to reach in and touch them, so I held the chicken over the trash can and jiggled it.

Something that looks like a liver fell out, and just about did me in. Here it is - if you have a sensitive stomach, now would be a good time to scroll down...just sayin.


Having de-gibleted the chicken carcass, I rubbed it liberally with the rub I made and plopped it into the disposable pan I found shoved way back in the dead space of a cabinet. Thank God because I hate washing pans that have meat stuff stuck on them. I usually use aluminum foil to cover the pans, but I had a feeling that foil would not hold the juice of this bad boy...or girl...I guess chickens are girls, right?

Before I put it in the oven I smashed 4 cloves of garlic with my mallet and placed them gingerly into the "cavity" of the chicken. Here's what she looked like all fixed up


Into the oven she went. It smells good, but we shall see how it comes out. I will let you know.




2.07.2011

It's a Vitameatavegemin Kind of Day

Are you tired? Run down? Listless? Do you poop out at parties? Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. ;)

I can tell it's going to be one of "those" days. If only they still made this kind of stuff. Haha...I'm kidding. Clearly, from this clip (below), it would NOT actually help me get through my day, at least not functionally. It might help me take a great nap, though, and I feel like I could use one.

We started off pretty well. Caeley and Riley got off to school, and when the boys and I got back home, Christopher was ready for his morning nap. So I put him down and made Corban some popcorn to eat while he watched Kipper. My only instructions were to sit on the blanket on the floor and don't get any popcorn on the floor. He said, "Okay," in the cute, perky way that he does.

I decided to make another batch of muffins. I found a healthier whole wheat recipe a couple of weeks ago and I actually thought they weren't too bad. Lightly sweet, but sweet enough. They were blueberry and the kids didn't love them, so this time I decided to be a super fabulous mommy and make them using peanut butter chips and chocolate chips. A compromise, right?

If you care here's the recipe...it's a good base to add whatever you want, and you can adjust the sweetness to your liking.

1 1/2 C whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 C honey
1/4 C veg oil
1/3 C milk
1 egg
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 1/2 C blueberries (or whatever you like)

Mix dry and wet ingredients separately. Then make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet, and mix just til blended, gradually stirring in blueberries (or whatever you decide to use). Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes. Makes 12.

I got them into the oven, and cleaned up my mess, and about that time Corban came into the kitchen wanting some pita chips. I went into the living room to put a few in his popcorn bowl, and lo and behold, there was popcorn everywhere!


This is but one small corner of the mess. He had himself a quiet little popcorn throwing party...similar to the baby powder throwing party he had a few nights ago. What the heck? Did I not say stay on the blanket and don't get popcorn on the floor. He must have heard, cover the floor with a blanket of popcorn. God, give him the gift of interpretation, so that when I speak he understands what it is that I say!

MUFFIN UPDATE: Do not overcook these muffins, like I did...as I was sitting here writing this post. They are hard as a rock. So I will make more, and tweak the recipe this time. I'm thinking a mixture of sugar and honey would be good...the batter was very thick, so I will add a bit more milk...in case you care ;)

Anyway, it was about this time that I wished I had some Vitameatavegemin. Here's a clip of that episode of I Love Lucy...it's one of my favorites. If you could use a laugh, watch it.




2.04.2011

Longest Day Ever Photo Recap...

This has truly been the longest day. I don't know why, but it has dragged on and on. For starters we have been covered up by this big green patch for days, it seems



Baby Alfalfa, here, is teething (bless his heart) and he's about to chew his fist off. Also, he decided he couldn't take a nap, due to his discomfort

But who could be mad at him? He's so dang cute.

I decided it would be fun to try and make some of Bakerella's cake pops, spur of the moment, so I made a run to Walmart, in the big green patch, to get the stuff I needed. It was cold and wet and took forever, because, while I chose the shortest line ever, and the customer in front of me only purchased two items, the cashier (a female) wanted to talk football. So she went on and on about how Auburn won't have anyone that can play against Julio Jones next year, so they are done. I really could care less. But, that's how it goes...once again, if you see me out, don't get in my line. It's always the slow one. I really wasn't upset about it, it just added to the longness of the trip.

Making the cake pops was really fun. It also takes a looooong time, though, because there are several steps, and times they just have to sit and firm up. It was the most creative thing I've done in a while, and although they didn't come out as well as I would have liked, I'm glad I spent the time. I kind of needed a mindless activity. Here they are...they were supposed to all be smiley faces, but something went awry with the second batch of melting candy and it was gloppy - so I turned to the sprinkles...they cover a multitude of sins



I finally got those all done and we almost had the kids totally ready for bed. I headed to their bathroom to brush their teeth, and found them in their room having a party with a container of baby powder. Oh.My.Gosh. There was the biggest dust cloud you have ever seen - I hope I recover soon. Corban thought it was awesome



I feel like I'm leaving out some major event - but, oh well. I'm going to bed - I have to get up and start all over again in the morning. Good night!

1.28.2011

Order in the Temple!

My body, that is. This is a continuation of the topic of order from a couple of weeks ago, where I basically said that I felt God is calling me to set apart a time to get my life in order - the house, the kids, and now my health.

Recently we watched a documentary on Netflix called, Food, Inc. If you watch it you may never eat again! It was very eye opening, to say the least. No wonder we have such health problems, and if you believe what some people say, it's no accident. There is a big move toward population control, and many say they are weeding out people, or causing sterility, through foods, vaccinations, etc. I don't know what I really think about all of that, but I honestly would not be surprised a bit. It's cheaper to eat a nasty fast food burger than to buy fresh vegetables - which is tragic. I don't think I have to spell out how that works...certain people groups and social classes can afford the healthier options and certain ones cannot. It's a wicked thing to consider...but so is Planned Parenthood...same agenda.

Anyway, before I get any further up on my soapbox, whether or not it's planned or just stupidity, I know enough to know that what I put into my body will have major ramifications - for the positive or the negative. So, while I am tempted to try to change everything all at once, as is my usual method, I have decided to try to add some things into my diet and routine, rather than start taking lots of things out. Otherwise, I would probably fail miserably, which is my usual result ;)

For starters I am going to try desperately to drink more water. Can I just say that I pretty much hate drinking water...unless I am very thirsty and it's very cold. But I'm going to be a big girl and just do it. I drink too much coffee, as well. Coffee is a diuretic, so it sucks water away from your body. To make up for that, you need even more water. I'm certain I live in a constant state of dehydration. According to recommendations, I would need to drink 63 oz of water, plus another 8 for each cup of coffee. That's a LOT of water! We'll see how that goes.

I also went and bought some green superfood powder, with wheatgrass, algae, and lots of other green things and probiotics. It's really not too bad if you mix it with juice. I just got our juicer back out. It's a really nice juicer Dave's parents gave us years ago, but we just haven't used it much. Corban and I just made our first batch: carrot, celery and apple. I kind of liked it, but Corban was not a fan. My kids will not touch a vegetable of any kind, so I must find a way to get them drinking this stuff. I feel some smoothies coming on...we do love a smoothie around here. Whatever it takes...you can sneak all kinds of things into a smoothie.

Finally...exercise. Ugh. I do enough moving around already don't I? Apparently not. They (whoever "they" are) recommend using a rebounder - fancy name for a tiny trampoline. I might could get into that. It supposedly is one of the few things that gets your lymphatic system flowing...which is kind of important if you want all the yuck your lymph nodes filter out to actually leave your body. I think I would like that very much ;) I could jump while watching one of the 5 channels we now have...ha! Or Netflix. I found a fascinating series about the history of African Americans in our country...it's very interesting and honest, too, I think. Not what you might expect. That was just a bit of bonus information.

I'll update on my progress, as I am certain you'll be on the edge of your seats. Now, I'm going to take a nap...I've got bronchitis and didn't sleep much at all last night. That cough syrup with hydrocodone let me down big time! Think it could have been the steroids I took right before?

1.23.2011

Awkward

This is how I feel right now. I found these nerd glasses in the playroom this morning and had a little fun with them. I'm home from church with a sick-ish child - he just has a runny nose, but you know how it is. Just keeping our germs to ourselves. But back to the picture. Lately I have been feeling so awkward...I have said things that sound crazy and written things on my blog that don't belong there...it's like I am revisiting a part of me that I have forgotten about - the insecure, immature part of me that I thought was gone. The part that speaks without thinking. I said something to someone that, in my mind, would equate to telling a guy you want to marry him on the second date. Have you ever done that? It was so out of character for me that I can't even get over myself. And maybe that's the point...or the problem. Consumption with self. A few days ago I posted the song "Like Incense/Sometimes By Step," and pointed out the line that speaks to me most:

"Because you gladly lean to lead the humble, I shall gladly kneel to leave my pride"

If I really mean that then maybe what needs to be purged is the need to feel respected, understood, accepted...to be willing to put aside my reputation and concern myself with His. And clearly I'm not quite there yet...but I want to be.

1.22.2011

Are You Willing to Be Moved?

Plase take the time to watch this...about 8 minutes. Let it move you.


1.21.2011

The Riches of His "No"

The kids and I were in the car the other day and we were listening to "Forever Reign," from Hillsong Live. There's a line that says, "the riches of your love will always be enough..." Riley asked me what "the riches of His no," was...she had heard it wrong. I was thinking about that this morning because the song was on again on my way to the grocery store, and something hit me...the riches of His "no." Have you ever thought about that? That there are riches, things to be gained and won, when He says, "No," or when He seems slow to move to answer prayer or rescue us from situations that are uncomfortable, stressful or painful?

Listen to this:

"Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." Romans 5

"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." Genesis 50

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?" Romans 8

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1

My natural tendency when I am in distress is to ask to be rescued, "God make it go away!" But often, He says , "Not yet." When those not yets come, then what? "Consider it pure joy." Say what? According to these verses, there are some good things that come from suffering and trials...perseverence, wisdom, patience, maturity, character, and even hope, of all things. Hope in the midst of hardship? Absolutely. Our hope is not in circumstances changing, but in the One who has the power to change them...or not change them. When you shift your focus off of feeling better, and shift it toward God, toward bringing Him glory in all things, you gain an eternal perspective. And that's where hope is...in the joy set before us, ahead of us, and that can give us joy now.

We are not completed works. We are in process...we haven't become, but are becoming. In order to become something beautiful, something pure and spotless, without mixture...24K...we have to go through the fire - the Refiner's fire. Don't serve your circumstances, make them serve you. What the enemy means for harm, God intends for good. Stay in the process and plunder the situation for its riches - take everything out with you that you can.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

1.19.2011

Like Incense/Sometimes By Step

I feel like my body is trying to fight off some kind of sickness...I refuse to get the flu this year. Or strep throat. I've been drinking Airborne...I know people that swear by it, but it is so nasty! It's almost as bad as drinking the colonoscopy prep. Almost. And I feel like I did something ridiculous today (imagine that)...I hate that feeling. But I'm thankful for grace.

Meanwhile, I cannot stop listening to this song. This line especially, has become my prayer (that it would become true of me):

"Because you gladly lean to lead the humble, I shall gladly kneel to leave my pride"

which now has me wondering if He lets me do and say things that feel ridiculous to that end. Am I willing to look foolish or be misunderstood? I just want to learn to love people...why am I so awkward at it?

1.17.2011

First Things First

My pastor spoke on putting first things first yesterday, and it might as well have been just for me. Everyone else could have stayed in bed ;) I've been so frustrated and behind on things, and I knew why. It's because I wasn't prioritizing. I have been so tired lately and the lack of energy had me pretty unmotivated to try and accomplish anything. He used that illustration with the jar and the big rocks and the little rocks, and how the only way everything fits is if the big ones go in first. The sad thing is that I almost tuned him out, thinking, "I've heard this before." That attitude could be a sermon in itself, but for now I'll skip that and get to the point.

I did pay attention because order is the very thing that I've been seeking. If I am going to be able to accomplish anything outside of my home, do the things that are in my heart to do, my home has got to be in order. There has to be a baseline set...where things are basically as they should be, and only require regular maintenance (which is time consuming, but not as much when you are starting from chaos). My Sunday afternoon was VERY productive and I kicked some clutter butt! Sorry, that sounded juvenile didn't it? Guess what...I don't care ;)

I have decided (or felt led) not to lead a small group this spring for this purpose: to get my world in order and to seek and listen to God about what I am to be doing, where my focus should be. The opportunities and needs of our world are overwhelming, so I am asking that God would lead me by compassion. In other words, He would give me His compassion for the people and things He is calling me to focus on...where I should put my time and energy and where we should invest our finances. You do know that giving sacrificially to ministry is an investment, right? Listen to this from The Message version of the Bible (this is not your version to use for study, but I like the way this was worded.)

"Don't hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it's safe from moth and rust and burglars. It's obvious, isn't it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being." Matthew 6:19-21

Here is the link to yesterday's message at church...take a listen...it was very practical - if you apply the principles, your life will change. Period. Your disorder may not be the same as mine, but I guarantee you've got some things out of whack...we all do. It's just too easy in this world to get sidetracked. Every now and then it's just good to take inventory. Take a listen...

http://www.churchofthehighlands.com/ you can watch it here or download it from itunes.

1.15.2011

Bloggers Remorse

So, I am experiencing blogger's remorse. I'm new to blogging, so I don't know the "lingo," but I'm calling it that. I have edited the previous post, and if you happened to read it pre-edit and were offended by something I said, then forgive me! I was being silly and wasn't thinking, but today it occurred to me (read: I was hit with a tidal wave of, "oh my gosh, what were you thinking?") that some people that don't know me might wander over to my blog and not understand that I really do try to be careful with my words and actions, so as not to offend or confuse people about where I stand. If you didn't read it, you are probably really wondering what I said, but too bad! It wasn't that bad, I just had a moment of "realness," as my friend Sarah put it. So, once again I apologize if you were offended.

1.14.2011

Just a Random Post

Tonight Dave and I had a much needed dinner date. We went to a Chinese restaurant we'd never been to before and I was a little concerned because we were the ONLY people there...on Friday night...in a college town...when everyone is back. He actually intended to go to another one down the street, but got confused. Once we were in and saw the menu he realized it wasn't the right one, because it didn't have Pad Thai, but we were kind of stuck by then.

A couple more people did come in, but still...I debated about whether to eat off the buffet or the menu. I figured off the menu would be fresher, but I ended up opting for the buffet. It was still steaming so I assume that means it stayed nice and hot and nothing was growing on it. I hope. It was pretty good, but honestly I have yet to find a Chinese restaurant that can serve me breaded chicken that isn't soggy. The rice was really good, though, and that's my favorite thing.

I learned this from my fortune cookie: in English, we say two heads are better than one (that was my fortune). In Spanish, they apparently say, four eyes see better than two (that was the Spanish version on the back).

We then went to Gap where I tried on about 5 pairs of jeans, and came out with none. I'm obsessed with jeans and finding the perfect pair. I thought had found them in my Gap sexy boot jeans, but either they stretched or I shrunk. I never used to understand people who said they couldn't find jeans that fit, but now I get it...it's so hard!

After that we came back home and played a game of Scrabble Flash with Caeley. If you haven't played it before, it's an electronic game where you have five squares, and each one has a letter (the letters change each round). You put them together to spell words and they are programmed to "know" when you've made a word. We were playing the game where you have a set amount of time to make one four letter word from your letters and the time gets shorter and shorter as you go on. I think they have some serious bugs to work out. We failed to make words like "fiar" (not even an English word), "oldy" (not a word, according to answers.com, anyway), and "defi" (which was listed on answers.com as an obscure word). Next time we play old-school Scrabble, you better believe I'll be busting out some of these.

All in all it was a great night and was much needed. I had been feeling sad and disconnected for the last few days. I guess I just needed some fun and laughter with the family.

Proverbs 17:22 - A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

1.13.2011

Nose Rings and Mug Shots

My motto in life for the last several months has been this: "There is power in confession." I may have blogged about that in a previous post...can't remember. If I haven't then I should. I'm not really writing about that here, though, it's just a lead-in :) I was reading Amanda's blog - http://babybangs.blogspot.com/ - and thought it would be fun to share some confessions and then ask you to share one, too. These aren't anything serious - it's not wise to share certain things in a public space...know what I'm saying? Here we go:
  • I secretly wish I could get a teeny tiny cute little diamond nose ring. But, a.) I'm too old, b.) I'm not cool enough to pull it off and c.) I'd probably change my mind immediately because I would worry that I looked like a "heathern" and have a third hole in my nose (if you have a nose ring, I don't think you look like a "heathern")
  • I have a dream that one day I will be the voice of some cartoon character, like Dory, in Finding Nemo, for a Disney movie.
  • When I'm alone at home, or in the car, I talk to myself and sing in wierd voices just to keep myself entertained. Sometimes I skip (not in the car).
  • I wish I had a big old truck with huge mud tires to drive just for fun.
  • I HATE having my picture taken because I always look awful. And I secretly wonder if it's really that I always look that way!
  • I once had my driver's license suspended because I forgot to pay a ticket.
  • I wish I was on staff at my church. I don't know what I would do, though. I'm not exactly bursting with skills.
  • I want to write a book. But, about what, I don't know, yet.
  • This one was originally in the post, but I deleted it. Now I'm adding it back, since I'm no longer in an official leadership position at any church anywhere ;) There once existed, in a file, on a desk in a sheriffs office, a beautiful mugshot of my face...little sign with the numbers and all. I got caught sharing a beer with an under-aged friend, in college...17 years ago...long time ago...and had to get booked. Photo, fingerprints, the works. Oh yeah, and they showed up at my parents' house at 6am with an arrest warrant. Rude. My dad drove me down to get booked. He made me ride in the back of the sherriff's car. It was an amazing experience. Very strange. 
Okay, your turn. Seriously...let's hear it.

Favorite Things

One of the sweetest things to me is putting Christopher, our fourth and last baby, to bed. If you've got kids, I'm sure you can relate - well, maybe, if you've got one that doesn't mind bedtimes. Out of the four kids he's been the only one to ever suck his thumb and I just think it is so precious. We'll talk again in a few years and I'll let you know if I still think it's precious. He only does it at bedtime and only in the presence of his blanket. Our routine is to go into his room, turn off the light, turn on the sound machine and then I hand him his blanket...and the thumb goes into his mouth. The next part is what I love. As soon as he gets hold of his thumb he lays his head on my shoulder, and it stays there - for about 4.5 seconds, then he pops his head up and looks me in the eye, smiles and says, "dadadadadadada," which by the way, is NOT "Daddy". Just saying. I say it back to him and then his head crashes back down on my shoulder, for another few seconds and he pops back up - "dadadadada," and so on until he is finally ready to lay down and he leans toward his bed. I lay him down and he looks at me with such a sweet little smile, thumb in mouth, clutching his blanket. And that's it. I love it and am thinking about how this won't last much longer. He's growing up. I will cherish these sweet baby moments.

What are the moments you cherish?