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Friday, December 25, 2009

This is IT!

Yes, this is IT. 

IT is the reason we have a holiday. 

IT is the reason we exchange gifts. 

IT is why we gather with those we love on this day set aside. 

This is Christmas. 

CHRISTmas. 

He is IT. 



Oh how I hope IT is what you are focusing on today.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Rest





This is a Christmas gift from a very dear friend.  It is counted cross stitch.  I love quilts so really, really appreciate the picture and the details on that quilt.  Her dad built the stand for the picture which is totally awesome, too.  How neat that father and daughter use their gifts/talents to bless other people.

The quilt on my bed was a gift from a former boss.  As I was leaving a previous position I was given a gift certificate to a store that has tons of gift ideas but I knew right away that I was going to buy myself a quilt.  I'd never bought one and have always admired handstitched quilts.  The applique quilt that I purchased has been on our bed for the past 13 years.  It is a comfortable, snuggly quilt that is especially dear as I think of that former boss and his gracious gift to me.

Quilts, to me, are a symbol of comfort.  I've attempted making a few quilt tops over the years.  So far I've only completed a couple of quilt wall hangings.  The wall hangings have been gifts and have been made of fabrics that are special and represent family heritage.  That brings a sort of comfort to the recipient.  A sense of peace and "rest".

Rest. 

On the bottom of the wooden stand on this year's Christmas gift, my friend wrote out the verse Mark 6:31 "And He said to them, Come aside by yourself to a deserted place and rest awhile."

Rest.  Are you laughing that on this fourth day from Christmas I would choose to write about this word!  Maybe you are cringing because you have so much to "do" before Jesus' birthday party.  Isn't it just like Jesus to say, "hey...get away from it all...find a deserted place and just take a rest" .

My "get away from it all aka deserted place" is one of two places:  wrapped in a blanket in the recliner in the livingroom or...get ready for this...the bathtub.   I sure wish my blanket in the livingroom was a quilt and especially one like the cross stitched picture. Maybe someday I'll make one like that.

In the meantime, let me tell you that I am choosing rest on this day.  I've had some time today to be alone with the Lord. 

Can you do that, too?  In these next days, could I challenge you to find some time to rest.  Find some time to get to a deserted place and rest awhile." 

Focus on the One that can give you pure rest.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

My Song

As a senior in high school, I was in choir and also in a smaller singing group.  At Christmastime the smaller group would visit community events, school functions, go to nursing homes, etc. and perform a selection of Christmas tunes.  As a senior, I had a speaking part during the performance.  Public speaking at that time was NOT something that came easy.  In fact it mortified me but yet something deep inside of me wanted to be able to make coherent statements in public!!!  My choir director must've seen some hope in me as the speaking part was assigned via tryouts! 

Each Christmas since high school I think of that speaking part.  It was Mary's song from Luke 1 and I so wanted to be able to convey her heart during each performance.   Even after all of the MANYyears since high school, I remember my desire to speak as if I were Mary. 

Let me set the stage if you aren't familiar with the story:  Mary, the young virgin, pregnant by a Spirit, carrying the Salvation of the World, goes to visit her auntie Elizabeth.  When Elizabeth sees her and greets her, the baby inside of Elizabeth leaps for joy (that might've even hurt) and she greets Mary, calling her Blessed One.  And Mary's response is this:

Mary's Song


And Mary said:
"My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
even as he said to our fathers."
My mind, honestly, cannot fathom what she was going through.  Or even what kind of heart and pureness she must've had to be allowed to carry God's One and Only Son into this world through a human birth.  And to raise Him as a normal child despite His.....heritage!  It really is more than I can comprehend. 

Yet, she accepts what she has been given.   And even recognizes she will be called blessed and I get the feeling that she was okay with being given that title. 

But then right away she draws the attention back to the Mighty One that has done great things for her...holy is His name.  She speaks of His mercy, great power, true authority, love, justice, acknowledging her heritage in Abraham.

If this was a story in our present day, can you imagine the Facebook updates, all the Twittering that would go on and the smear stories that would be in the media.  I'm sure the only focus would be on the fact that some young chick gets pregnant and the whole focus on God would be approached only from a "she must be crazy" aspect and her wanting Him to get the focus would totally not be printed.

As one that has come to see my sin, as one that has come to accept God's forgiveness, as one that has received Jesus as my personal Savior, I too, am called blessed.  So, as I read Mary's Song this morning in my devotional time, I read it out loud as if I were the one saying it for the first time.  Then I read it again.  Louder, as if to proclaim the truth of each word to anyone that was within earshot (that was just the dog).  This morning something in these verses became real to me, like they were mine. 

If I could stand on a mountain and shout at the top of my lungs, I would shout of God's great love, mercy, power, justice, faithfulness, His holiness and more...more...more!

If my life could show anything, I would hope it would show these things.

The Message Bible interpretation of Mary's Song goes like this:

I'm bursting with God-news;
I'm dancing the song of my Savior God.
God took one good look at me, and look what happened—
I'm the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
His mercy flows in wave after wave
on those who are in awe before him.
He bared his arm and showed his strength,
scattered the bluffing braggarts.
He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
the callous rich were left out in the cold.
He embraced his chosen child, Israel;
he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
It's exactly what he promised,
beginning with Abraham and right up to now.


He is my Song. 

May my life be a song of Him.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Atmospheric Pressure Changer

I just came back from a weekend hockey tournament.  Let's see, I must've sat through at least six or seven hockey games and no, I'm not sick of hockey!  Kidlet Three played in three games but several of his friends were in the same tournament so we watched their games, too. 

At those tournaments you see all kinds of people.  Seriously.  Who needs to go to a mall to sit and watch people.  Drop by a sporting event to see the uptight, the parents-living-their-childhood-again-through-their-own-children, the encouragers, the siblings that were dragged to the event and are bored, and the list goes on.  I saw them all this weekend.  And, the atmophere around those people is really different. 

The man that sat in the bleachers pretending he was a play-by-play sports announcer caused me to get up and move to a different seat.  The atmosphere around him was kind of like a know-it-all.  His interpretation of the game was quite different than what I was seeing.

Then there was the parent who commented on what each player was doing wrong...out loud.  And my kid's name was mentioned during that commentary.  For the second time, I got up and moved.  The atmosphere around that parent didn't have any life in it...was very depressing.

Finally I sat by another hockey mom that grabbed my arm when I sat down and she said "oh I'm so glad you chose to sit by me, let's cheer these boys on to a win!"  Her words were like a gentle breeze on a sunny spring day!  A pleasant atmosphere just two rows away from the negative commentary parent.

Stick with me...this is not a weather report, I promise. 

That mom and I shouted encouraging words throughout the game.  I talked her into standing with me at the beginning of each period when the boys would skate out to take the drop of the puck.  Like we were "honoring" their efforts and we appreciated what they were doing in the game.  Several of the boys gawked at us from the ice but we smiled and clapped like fools. 

There was a time during the game when the action/puck was right in front of where I was sitting.  One of the opposing team players and our team player fell on top of each other and the opposing player held onto the hockey stick of our team player.  The nerve of that kid to hang onto that stick so our little buddy couldn't get into the game to play.  Something came over me and I found myself standing up and shouting "shame on you!"

Talk about atmosphere change.  Hilarious laughter broke out as all of the parents chortled back at me "you said shame on you at a hockey game!"  I'll never live this down.  Those parents and spectators will remember this probably all season long! 

Something bigger happened, though.  The atmosphere became lighter and there was less tension after their laughter.  I certainly don't intend on making a fool of myself by yelling goofy things like that at each game, but for today, I'm okay with what I did.

At the end of the game, the other hockey mom and I stood to clap despite the fact the score showed the team had lost.  It was so cool, most of the other parents stood to clap, too.  Not all of them but most did.  The atmosphere at that time was one of  pleasantness.  Despite the disappointment in a loss there was a pleasant atmosphere.

Guess who didn't stand to clap at the end.  The Play-By-Play Commentator and the Depressing-Find-Everything-Wrong parent.  Their atmosphere just couldn't be penetrated today but I'm holding out for them.

There have been times in the past, when parents and spectators have gotten caught up in a negative atmosphere during a game.  It has happened in Kidlet One's soccer games, Kidlet Two's baseball and hockey and now in Kidlet Three's hockey games.  Like a feeding frenzy, the negative comments start flying out of the mouths toward the referees and even their own kids.  It is like a virus, spreading and affecting the whole sporting event when that happens. 

It even happened at a Minnesota Wild hockey game that Husband, Kidlets and I were at.  The Wild were playing terribly and losing a game they should be winning.  All those around us were spewing obscenities and negative comments toward the players/team.  Husband and I looked at each other and without saying a word to each other, stood to our feet and started yelling "We believe in you....let's go Wild...let's go....you can do it....go..go...go".  Believe it or not...I tell you the truth.  The atmosphere changed almost instantly.  At first there were a few that changed the negative to the positive.  Then more and more began cheering and encouraging instead of condeming.  And, the Wild ended up setting a record that night.  They scored the most goals in the shortest amount of time and they won that game.  I believe it was because the atmosphere changed. 

I'm an Atmospheric Pressure Changer.  Hopefully for the positive.  I'm sorry for the times I've been a negative influence.

The Lover and Creator of All lives inside of me and He is the One that causes Atmospheric Pressure Changes.  God, alive and well, lives inside of me.  I want to be His leaking vessel.  That He would leak out of me in every place I go.

To change atmospheres

To change people

Thank you, Lord, that you've made me an Atmospheric Pressure Changer!  It's all about You!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Hockey Therapy


I sit in plenty of hockey arenas during practices and games.  One of the arenas in Our City has a walking track, which I enjoy walking on.  In other arenas I crochet.  Most die-hard hockey fans would probably not associate crocheting with hockey, but I am an exception. 

Over the past year I have carried green, brown or cream yarn and a crochet hook everywhere.  Sometimes it is more enjoyable to chat with the other hockey parents so at those times I don't grab the craft to work on.  Othertimes I feel quiet and reflective and will crochet many rows.  It is a form of therapy for me. 

I decided to make crocheted squares and decide at a later date what to do with them!  Somewhat risky for a novice crocheter but my hands needed to be kept busy.  One by one those squares were completed.  In the miracle category, they all ended up fairly even, square and the same size! 
Over the hockey season I did get plenty of wrinkled-eyebrow-looks as I was the only one doing needlework in a hockey arena.  Hey, it was keeping me from the concession stand and it relaxes me. 

Okay...now the truth comes out.  I get a little excited at hockey games.  

I heard that!  Those of you that know me are laughing and saying "a little" excited! 

Hockey is an awesome game.  When Kidlet Two was about 11 years old, his team offered to have a parent-against-son hockey game and I was so "in" on that!  There was no consideration on my part that I hadn't skated in years and had no hockey protective equipment but I was going to do this!  It wasn't pretty.  Most of my time on the ice was spent trying to balance myself, hang onto that stick and anytime the puck came my way, my "swing" at the puck usually missed.  The ending play for me was the 100-mile-per-hour puck that hit my shin.  It has been several years since that game but memories are flooding my head (and my shin) right now of the pain. 

Last Christmas I got cocky and decided I should try this hockey thing again.  On the outdoor rink in my parent's town, Husband and Kidlet Three and I went skating.  And then we decided to pass the puck back and forth with each other.   You know I am pretty good at multi-tasking in my home and at work.  It is not uncommon for me to have four or five things going at the same time and all is in control.  On the ice, however, there is no multitasking for me.  There is one thing that I can do and that is concentrate on not falling on my bum.  But I had to take the challenge of playing hockey with my guys.  I didn't fall but that is only because I was praying so hard.  I'm not sure on many hockey rinks you will hear a player saying repeatedly "oh God help me" but that was my mantra.

Bottom line:  hockey is not for wimps.  Being able to stand, hold a stick and then skate takes talent!  Then add the fact you have to skate forward, backward, sideways holding the stick and controlling a puck all while some annoying other person (the opponent) is there trying to take the puck away. As much as I would love to be a hockey player myself, I can't do it!

If you were to watch me during any of Kidlet Two and Three's hockey games, I'd be the mom whose feet are moving (under my warming blanket) as I guess I'm pretending to skate, and my arms may flinch as I was pretending to hit a puck with my pretend hockey stick.  My body would move to the right and left as I was ducking away from the opponent.  I may even lean into the person next to me pretending I was skating next to the boards and I'm feeling squeezed. 

Hello, my name is So Amazed and I have a problem with passion for hockey...

I need some form of therapy to contain this passion so I crochet.  Whew...that confession feels good. 

Thus, my "therapy squares"...
And the finished product:

Anyone want to go to a hockey game this winter?  Give me a call!  My crocheting bag and I will pick you up!

Monday, November 16, 2009

I Deeed Eat!

My brother, Jim, had Down's Syndrome.  Communication was sometimes difficult for him but he had one phrase that he could say with such clarity and it was this "I Did It."  When Jim said those words it came out more like "I deeeeed eat!"  There was a lot of emphasis on the "E" sound!  Jim left this earth to be with Jesus 13 years ago on this coming Saturday.  He is still missed but his famous phrases live on in our family. 

Like this past week.  Take a look at this picture.  We've talked about this in a blog earlier in the month.  Does anything look different?



A week ago did you hear someone shout

"I DEED EAT!!!"

Kidlet Three gave himself his first insulin shot!  Four years after his diagnosis he had the courage, strength, and lots of incentives to poke that needle in his own skin.  And he has continued on all this week having to face another giant when he had to go into a restaurant bathroom to give himself the shot.  But guess what...
He DID IT!!
 The smile on his face spread from ear to ear after that first shot.  The first words out of his mouth were "I did it" and then "that wasn't so bad."  I cried happy tears.  We did a dance.  We called family and friends.  And boy did we hug. 

The gameboard that Kidlet One made was pivotal for Kidlet Three to get moving toward this goal.  Each day Kidlet Three had an option to earn a dollar per the gameboard spaces instructions, or to give us a dollar back if he chose to skip a space (set of instructions).  Never did he pay us any money.  He charged along that gameboard in his true competitve way.  The day we were to share poking the needle in he was a little apprehensive.  So we literally talked through what was going to happen and then we prayed.  Well, I prayed as he was jittery.  Specifically I asked God to give Kidlet Three extreme courage and peace.  And then we started and I took my hand off the syringe in a surprise move but he continued on and poked that needle in his tummy chub.  And the party started!

The very last space on the gameboard, one of the grand prizes, was a trip to House of Bounce.  This is a building of inflatable slides, climbing walls, jousting, tug-of-war, etc. plus a room for laser tag.  Today we celebrated.  Kidlet One and her husband were able to join us along with three of Kidlet Three's friend.  We were so sad that Kidlet Two had a college class which kept him from joining us.  And believe it or not...I participated in the Bounce and the laser tag.  I'm hooked on laser tag!  Here are a few snaps...



 



Kidlet Three's journey to this day is not unlike this inflatable obstacle course.  As I crawled through here, God did a little nudge with me and allowed me to see the analogy. 


The beginning through the course started like this.  I could stand and push my way through.  Kidlet Three has been able to push his way through four years of Dad and Mom giving the insulin shots.
What started out as a standing/walking through the beginning of the maze quickly ended with me crawling on my hands and knees.  Quite humbling, I must say.  Rounding a corner I saw this:

Until I stood up and saw a different perspective

The view was a whole lot different when standing.  Four years Kidlet Three has been staring at this view.  The thought of giving himself his shots was too ovewhelming.  Like he couldn't get through.  And he would sit down and not face the obstacles and allow Husband and I to give the shot.  Today, I stood and plowed my way through those obtacles and boy did that feel good.
That one last obstacle was the steepest.  With very little grips and a steep incline.  Already a little out of breath, I stood looking at this ladder of sorts wondering how I had talked myself into this! 


Kidlet Three started on his gameboard knowing full well the winning space of the game was the day he would do the poke.  Yet he was willing to play the game.  He moved ahead a space each day collecting his $1 and small incentive prizes selectively placed along the board.  Never did he talk about giving up and not playing.  Even when he faced the last big step.  Like me trying to climb this tiny ladder (secretly hoping the kids were not around to watch me struggle at this).  I huffed and puffed my way up these steps (this wasn't the steepest inflatable by the way...I had already done that one but that didn't make this any easier)!  What a sense of accomplishment when I got to the top. 

I sat down on the slide with my newly pedicured toes (too bad you have to wear socks here)!  This was the final step to conquoring the obstacle course.  This was the poke-the-needle-in-yourself step to win.  It was so fun to slide down and catch my breath!  And guess what I said at the bottom?
I deed eat!
Kidlet Three, we are so proud of you!  You beat that obstacle course of fear and apprehension.  When things looked overwhelming and hopeless, you didn't quit.  You pushed through.  Courage was with you.  His name is Jesus.  He is proud of you too.  In fact, I bet God and Jim were shouting from heaven last week as we were celebrating here on earth.  They were shouting as loud as they could in happiness and joy...
He did it!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Las Vegas and an Attitude

On very short notice, I was gone for four days recently on a work trip.  Went to Las Vegas for a convention.  Personally, I've never wanted to visit Las Vegas but that was where I headed.

My plane from Hometown to Nearest-Big-City was cancelled.  All of the passengers were loaded on a bus and transported to the Nearest-Big-City.  You know what?  Life is short.  The bus wasn't packed.  We all had our own seats.  It was dry, warm and there was a bathroom.  The only thing we missed out on was the beverage service had we been on the plane.  There were passengers complaining about the inconvenience but sometimes I think we should weigh out when to complain and when to zip our lips.  Some of "them" had an attitude.
The bus got me to the Nearest-Big-City airport in plenty of time for the next flight.  There was just one big thing I had to face.  Airport scanning.  The only thing that freaks me out about airport scanning is that I have to take my shoes off.  Personal confession time....I have stinky feet.

Side Story:  I had a favorite pair of dress shoes that I wore almost every day at work.  They were comfortable and dressy.  They did cause my feet to sweat but the comfort was worth it.  One particular day I put those shoes on about 6 a.m. to head off to work and I wore them until I was tucking Kidlet Three into bed around 8:30 p.m.  As I lay down in bed with Kidlet to talk about the day and say prayers, I kicked my shoes off and they fell to the floor.  Within minutes our Dog was growling.  Dog very rarely growls...he barks.  This was definitely a growl.  I hopped out of bed and turned the bedroom light on to see Dog crouched and posed to jump on my shoes and he was growling at them.  I'm pretty sure he thought something had died when he smelled my shoes...and he was growling at them.

I was able to get through airport scanning without anyone around me passing out...from my shoe smell....

The flight from Nearest-Big-City was uneventful and even finding the shuttle to the hotel went fine.  I was shuttled to the Bellagio Hotel, where I would be staying and attending the work conference.  Nothing had prepared me for the beauty of this hotel.  I was totally and thoroughly surprised and overwhelmed when I walked in.  In fact, I cried.  

All of my life Las Vegas had been touted as the gambling capital, home of the boozers with prostitutes on every corner.  Part of this was confirmed when I stepped off the plane and the first thing I saw in the airport was gambling machines! 

Yet beauty had never been been used in conjunction with the name Las Vegas.  Before I left on this trip I had an atittude.  The opportunity to attend the conference was one I was grateful for; but, I was very disappointed that I had to go to Las Vegas.  Several times I found myself complaining about that city and wishing I was going anywhere but Las Vegas.

I had an attitude and had made a judgment about something I had no personal experience with. 

Standing in the lobby of the Bellagio Hotel with tears streaming down my face, I was overtaken with the beauty.  And I found myself saying, "I don't deserve to stay in such a nice place."  Immediately, and I mean immediately, God spoke to me in the way He speaks me and He said "you most certainly do deserve to stay here."

The physical beauty of my accommodations was echoed in the beauty of the people that worked there.  Every single person I enountered during those four days was gracious, personable and so willing to help.  My keycard didn't work in the hotel room door.  I was on the 15th floor and it had taken me 15 minutes to walk from the lobby to my room and then my door wouldn't open!  But there was bellman in the hallway and he saw what was going on.  He picked up a hallway phone and reported my dilemma and less than 10 minutes later I had working keycards with extreme apologies for my inconvenience.

I am so sorry for the attitude I had about Las Vegas.   The small slice of the city that I experienced in those four days certainly didn't support my pre-trip judgments.

How many other circumstances or areas in my life have I pre-judged or had an atittude about?  Way too many, I'm afraid.   I'm asking God to change me in that area.  To challenge my attitudes. 

Anyone want to go to Las Vegas with me next time?  I really want to go back now.  Serious!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ker ij

Mental or moral strength to venture, perservere or withstand danger, fear or difficulty (Merriam Webster)

Courage.

Isn't that a big word?  Somewhere along in February or March of this year, everytime I would sit quietly with God, that big word, courage, came flitting through my head.  Or started stirring in my heart.  That word started appearing in newspaper articles, seriously.  I would open a magazine and see that word.  Seriously!  Why did that word keep appearing?  Because sometimes I just don't "get it" that God wants to review something with me.  Remind me to tell you about my baptism sometime.  That is a really funny story how He used people and circumstances to invite me to be baptised again.

Courage.

After about the ka-jillioneth time of running into that word I decided to give in.  Did you know God will never force you to do something?  He is all about loving me (us) so very much that He would give me (us)options, options, options to explore His best for me (us...you get the picture here with the me/us).  So He will throw that word at me in many different ways and in different situations to get my attention because sometimes I just don't see it the first time!  When I say I "gave in" it means that after years and years of having Him show me His love for me, after years and years of trusting Him and years and years of following Him, He knows best and I want to give in to His ways. 

Courage.

What I've learned when God wants my attention, is to 1) spend time with Him asking Him to teach me and make it clear what I am to learn, 2) get into the Bible to read in His word about the subject.

In the back of my Bible is a concordance and I found the word courage listed.  I started looking up every verse that had the word courage in it.  In fact, I wrote the verses out in my journal. 

Spending time with God.  Did you know God is into communication!  Communication is made up of two action words:  speaking and listening.  I can speak to God and I can listen to Him.  He loves to communicate with me.  This may stretch your mind a little, but the way God communicates to me may not be the same way He communicates to you!  For many years God would give me visions or pictures "in my head" to teach me.  I am a visual learner so I appreciated the pictures!  Now those early pictures were always about food, too.  He would tie a teaching point to some food-related vision!  Yes, my heavenly Father knows me...He knows my love of food so He used that to teach me.  Thankfully we've moved out of the food-themed visions but He still uses pictures to communicate with me. 

During my communication times with God (which happens during my devotion time with Him, when I'm driving, standing in front of a class teaching, sometime when I'm talking to someone else I'm checking in with God, too, asking Him to bless the person I'm talking too) I just asked Him to give me courage.  If He felt this was important for me, I wanted it.

Courage.

"Now when all the Amorite kings west of the Jordan and all the Canaanite kings along the coast heard how the Lord had dried up the Jordan before the Israelites until we had crossed over, their hearts melted and they no longer had the courage to face the Israelites."  Joshua 5:1

"Now when Ishosheth, Saul's son, heard that Abner had died in Hebron, he lost courage and all Israel was distrubed."  II Samuel 4:1

These were a couple of the first verses I looked up.  Sure wasn't a great way to learn about courage except for the fact that there have been times I have lost courage and so did people in the Bible.  Hey, they were like me!!  There were times they lost courage, too!

The next 10 or so verses were like this one:

"For thou, O my God, has revealed to thy servant that Thou wilt build for him a house; therefore thy servant has found courage to pray before thee."  I Chronicles 17:25

To me that verse means that the person praying saw (understood) something that God wanted him to know so he had courage to continue praying.

I kept reading.  Starting from the front of the Bible (Old Testament to the back of the Bible (New Testament) I looked up and wrote out those verses.  I saw the word become a choice and an action.  Here is a smattering of examples:

Act with courage
Do not lose courage
Take courage and do it
Found courage
Saw the courage
Take courage
Take courage
Take courage

Courage.

It is there for our taking!  So I've been asking my Lord to give me courage.  To be honest, I don't know why He felt I needed this lesson/review at this time.  But I trust Him and I know He is preparing me for something.  He is giving me what I need.  He is like that in all things...He gives me what I need and is always faithful to me. 

Courage.

Do you need any?  I don't have any to give you but I know someone Who does. 

Courage.

Make the choice to stop right now and ask God to communicate with you.  Ask Him to talk to you so you can learn His voice.  He probably won't talk to you about courage, but what He has to say to you will blow your socks off.  Take the courage to talk to Him but also, to listen.  Be patient...He may show you pictures, He may stir something inside of you, He may sing over you, you may feel something physical.  He is God.  He can communicate in any language or form!

Courage.

"Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified.  For the Lord your God goes with you.  He will never leave you nor forsake you."  Deuteronomy 31:6

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Little Bit of Lunch

Vacation days are so good.  Last Friday I had the day off and it turned out a friend called wondering if I could meet for lunch.  Instead of eating "out" I invited her to stop by the house for a Little Bit of Lunch.

Are you catching a theme on the web site?  I like food and I like cooking?  I hope that doesn't bore you!

Opening the cupboards to see what was available for this Little Bit of Lunch affair revealed...not much in the cupboards!  Someone has not gone grocery shopping for awhile....ME!  I was up the challange, though.  A neighbor recently gave us a 50-pound bag of potatoes.  That was a start!  The weather was cool so soup was definitely a possibilty....

I ended up making Potato Chowder.  This is a staple soup in our house during the winter.

This is a picture of the potatoes cooking in chicken bouillion, onion, parsley, salt and pepper.  Cook the potatoes until they are almost tender.  Because I was going to keep the soup warm in the crockpot for several hours and I didn't want mushy potatoes, I only cooked them until they were almost done.  They continued cooking in the crock pot.


To the boiling potatoes I added shredded carrots.  Because I am a meat lover, I also cooked up three chicken breasts with a bunch of herbs, cubed it and added it to the potatoes.  Thus, we had Chicken Potato Chowder!  The soup is even better with shredded cheddar cheese on it so cheese was shredded for each of us to spoon on our soup.

Digging in the freezer, I pulled out some raspberries.  I stirred up Sour Cream Raspberry Muffins!  Yum...yum!



And then a fresh fruit salad.  Bananas, oranges, and raspberries sprinkled on the top with a little orange juice to keep the bananas from turning brown...kept chilled in the refrigerator until it was time to eat.  If you look closely, the raspberries have frost on them from the freezer!



A Little Bit of Lunch with a friend should be special so I set a fun table.  Tablecloth, candles, worship music and a pretty display of food.



It was fun to hear my friend exclaim, "oh look at this table and the food...!" 

This friend is a prayer partner.  Once a week we find time to pray together.  After we enjoyed our soup, muffins and fruit, we prayed.  Did you notice I didn't have a dessert on my menu?

Prayer was the dessert for this Little Bit of Lunch! 

What a great menu!  Email me if you'd like recipes!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Keep it Up!!

Keep up the prayers!  Diabetes Clinic went really well last week.  We were told repeatedly what a great job we've been doing managing Kidlet Three's diabetes.  His 3-month average blood sugar results were great and the one test they really watch is the A1c blood test.  Our goal is 7.5 but he has been at an 8 the past year and a half.  Believe it or not...an 8 is great!  Apparently many kids are closer to 9.  The doctor's words were "I'm very, very happy with this and wouldn't change anything!"  What a blessing!  Thank you, God!

In my last post I asked you to pray for Kidlet Three.  That he would have the courage to start giving himself his shots.  We did talk at Diabetes Clinic about this...a lot.  We made a plan to achieve this goal.  A part of the plan included Kidlet One....

Kidlet One is a child life specialist.  She works at a clinic and hospital with kids sitting with them through tests and procedures, educating kids and parents, providing distraction, basically using the gifts that God gave her.  She came home this past weekend and worked with Kidlet Three on his diabetes goals.  Around the kitchen table, with their heads together, glue sticks uncapped with scissers and markers nearby, they created a visual of goals.





Here is the finished board game...Kidlet Three is very competitive so this is a perfect way for him to work toward achieving his goals.  The game is taped on the refrigerator and the game piece, magnetic, can be moved along the "squares".  Would you believe that Kidlet Three has jumped ahead squares and is so motivated by this game it is absolutely AMAZING!  Hang onto your seat...he is going to be giving himself these shots before you know it...but...KEEP IT UP!  I truly believe your prayers are part of the "game board of Kidlet Three's life."

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Diabetes Clinic

Today is Diabetes Clinic Day.  Two times a year we have appointments scheduled in the Diabetes Clinic.   Kidlet Three has Type 1 diabetes and was diagnosed four years ago. 

Speaking from the mother's perspective, it is an extremely emotional day.  Already this morning we've been to the Clinic for fasting bloodwork.  At 7 a.m. the other five children sitting in the lobby with us all have diabetes and they are all waiting for their bloodwork.  A little bit of sadness settles in on me when I look at those kids and families and know that we share a common diagnosis.  A diagnosis that affects the child and the entire family with no chance of remission or "healing"...yet. 

After bloodwork we always take Kidlet Three out for breakfast.  It is our Diabetes Day tradition.  He usuallys gets lunch with us today, too.  A real treat, ha! ha!  At 9:30 we meet with a diabetes nurse.  During that visit the record book that we record the five fingerprick blood test results in will be reviewed like under a microscope.  The nurse is looking for patterns of blood sugar readings that are too high or too low.  There are a ton of questions asked of Kidlet Three and us as parents.  There will be weight and height checks.  Verification that we have his eyes checked every year since diabetes likes to affect eyesight.  Then the social worker comes in.  Then the psychologist or pyschiatrist comes in.  How is Kidlet Three handling diabetes.  Has he been able to give himself his shots yet (still a no on that one and if any of you are the praying type...he needs prayer in this area).  Today I know there will be a lot of talk about giving himself his shots.  There will be more freedom for him when he can start doing this but oh the thought of sticking a needle in his skin is just oh so overwhelming.  There is a lot of fear on his part and I have to admit, I don't blame him. 

We'll also meet with the diabetes doctor and the dietitian.  It is definitely a day of teamwork.  A well-designed day of covering all the bases of life with diabetes for a kid and the family.  I am so very appreciative of this day.  We leave this day with many answers to our questions, always new information and a new set of goals for Kidlet Three.  This team of Diabetes care providers are like cheerleaders that bring encouragement but also are life coaches asking us to work even harder at getting normal blood sugars all the time. 

So as I get ready to leave the house again for the poo-pah appointments, I was contemplating the pros and cons of life with diabetes. 

Pros:  None except if it causes you to make good food choices (which we do)
Cons:  Insulin shots; expenses for all the supplies needed; eating at specific times; measuring food; managing blood sugars for an active 11-year-old that is involved in baseball and hockey; emotions affect blood sugars; this week hockey tryouts and surges of adrenaline affect blood sugars; every night The Husband or I check Kidlet Three's blood sugar at 2 a.m. because of the insulin regimen he is on can cause a blood sugar drop at 2 a.m.; blah blah blah.  There just isn't a whole lot to like about this diagnosis. 

Yet, our family has changed because of this.  We pay attention to what each other is doing; we evaluate our commitments; we are commited to giving Kidlet Three the best care we can while he still lives at home so he can be healthier in his adult life.  God has given us such grace to deal with this diagnosis.  This lifestyle. 

We have quite a team:  God and the wisdom and knowledge from the Diabetes Clinic care team.  Cheering us on!  I'm thankful.  And I'm late so off we go.....

Saturday, October 3, 2009

It Is Fall

**UPDATE**  Suzi's doing amazing post-op from her surgery.  THANK YOU for praying for her.  The cancer was contained just to her kidney, not in any lymph nodes nor her bladder.  No chemo necessary for her!  Check out Free Peace link below for the original posting.  Praise God!

It is fall!  The weather cools down, colors change outside, and believe it or not, there is a sense of anticipation.  For some it is dreaded anticipation of the cold, ice, and wind.  For others, it is a welcome anticipation of the beauty and transformation that winter brings. 

It is fall!  In my childhood years fall meant a couple of things:  visiting Grandma's garden of glorious mum plants in oh so many colors; pheasant hunting with my Dad and I even have a faint memory of duck hunting in the rain with my Dad; freezing corn, canning tomatoes and making dill pickles with Mom. 

It is fall!  Why did God decide to make color for us?  Why did He decide that the leaves should change colors in the fall?  I just love that about Him.  In fact, I celebrate leave colors in my house.  Would you believe I bought window cling-ons (okay, so they are really called window clings but I like to say cling-ons) of fall leaves!    This week it rained almost every day but what fun to glance out the deck doors and see some color coming from my "cling-ons"!

It is fall!  My backyard is full of fall change.  My flowers have, for the most part, turned brown.  The pansies love the cool weather so they are beautiful!  The apple tree branches are drooping in bounty.  Here is a snapshot of a branch taken in the rain this week.  The apples are Honeycrisp and are really good.  Oh, and the truth...I have MORE THAN A LUG of apples to deal with!  Can you hear the freezer calling:  apple pies, apple muffins, applesauce...come..come..come fill me up!  The raspberry patch has been picked and the berries frozen for jam.  Our tomatoes have been harvested and made into spaghetti sauce for the winter months.  How I will miss a bacon-lettuce-and real tomato sandwich in the coming months!
It is fall!  A time of routines and reflection.  The routine of school has been once again established and with it homework, school projects and play dates.  A time of reflection around the great summer we've had and even reflecting on what is ahead. 

It is fall!  Life totally resolves around football for many people.  This year I joined two fantasy football leagues.  Oh what fun it was to watch the face of my next door neighbor as he really, really tried not to smirk as I said I'd be on his wife's GIRLS ONLY FF team.  And then when I asked him if I could have Fran Trankenton on my team to watch him really, really, really try not to say, oh forget it...you really don't want to be on this team.  It was a great moment when I admitted that I knew Fran Tarkenton didn't play football anymore and that I'd have to settle for Brad Johnson (just kidding). 

It is fall!  A time of Anticipation.  What anticipation group did you put yourself into as you read my first paragraph?   Dread or welcoming?  Seriously...where are you at?  We've certainly seen our share of gloomy, rainy days this week and that can have an affect on anticipation.  If winter is all about getting busy and caught up in the preparations for Thanksgiving and Christmas, all about ice, snow and being cold, then, I'd have to admit that dread could be a word that I would choose for fall.  There is more, however.  Thank God there is more!  Can you close your eyes right now and picture that first snowfall where everything is blanketed in purity?  Can you picture a quiet winter's night with the moon gleaming on tranquility?  And yes, can you imagine that first step outside where it is so cold you can hardly catch your breath!  What an awesome, incredible God to create four seasons for us!  I welcome fall.  I anticipate winter.  I love my boots, coat, gloves and Cuddle Duds, too.  I anticipate a glorious next few months as we transition into winter.  I anticipate preparing for the opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving.  I anticipate preparing for weeks of celebrating the Birth of My Savior.  I anticipate school Christmas programs, needing to put on my boots, taking a bath to try to warm up, sitting in cold hockey rinks cheering Kidlet Three on in his games, baking my pear pies, looking through the seed catalogs, meeting for hot Chai tea with friends, and oh so much more. 

It is fall.  Welcome it!  Embrace it!  Enjoy it! 

An Amazing God made fall for us!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Lug Is Really a Lug

In case you were wondering, this is a lug....a lug of pears


Lug = lot of fruit!

What was I thinking when I ordered a lug EACH of pears and peaches!    The Husband called me Nuts on more than one occasion as we stared at that lug.  When the fruit flies started to invade, I rolled up my sleeves and started peeling pears.  After several freezer bags of sliced pears, I started baking.

Pear Bread!  Like banana bread and oh so good!  These two loaves are wrapped in clear plastic and then aluminum foil and are safely tucked in the freezer.

Ginger Pear Muffins.  Oh my gosh were these good (did you catch the past tense in that sentence...were good).  This isn't my picture because we ate the muffins too fast for me to snap a photo.  This is download from the web site where I got the recipe.Ginger Pear Muffins.  These are definitely worth making again and I'm sure some of the frozen slices of pears will make their way into a muffin this winter.

And last but not least...pear pies!  Have you ever made a homemade pie?  Let me show you how!  Start with Betty Crocker.  Well, her recipe for a standard 9-inch two crust pie.


Mix the flour and salt together.  Using a pastry blender (that is the gadget hanging on my flour container above), cut in the shortening so the whole mixture is lumpy.  Then add the water a tablespoon at a time.  I use my hands at this point.  The secret is to touch the dough as little as possible (or so I'm told)!  Add water until the dough holds together.

  Then divide the dough into two balls.  One ball will be rolled flat for the bottom crust of the pie.  The other ball will be rolled for the top crust.  Roll the dough out at least two inches wider in diameter than your pan pie.  Using a knife, cut the excess dough in a circle around the pan.  Fold the "circle" in half and then in half again.

Gently lift the quartered dough into the pie plate and unfold.

If you look close, you'll see the rip in my dough.  Oh well!  A little water on the fingers and a tap, tap, tap on the rip brings it together.  The overlapping "extra" dough should be trimmed/cut off with a knife so it is about one inch over the edge.  Now the fun really starts.  You get to peel a whole lot of pears.  Just when you think you must have enough pears peeled and you slice them up then you realize you've only just covered the bottom of the pie plate.  Peel and slice....peel and slice until that plate is full!


On top of the pears sprinkle a cinnamon/sugar mixture.  I use a sloted spoon to let the sugary mixture sift through the spoon as I wave it over the pears.  Butter.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Butter is next.  If the recipe calls for a tablespoon of butter, use three.  You'll be happy you did.  "Dot" the butter on top of the sugared pears so it looks like this:

The second ball of dough should now be rolled out.  Roll it, too, about two inches bigger than the pie plate.  Fold it into the quarter-fold, gently lay it on the buttered/sugared/loved on pears and unfold it...gently.  Tuck the top dough down under the first layer of dough.  I use a knuckle-pinch to seal the edges.  Here is a picture of the finished product.

I did not prick any holes in the top because I froze the pies.  Each was wrapped in clear, plastic wrap (several layers) and then wrapped in a cocoon of aluminum foil.  They are situated in the freezer beside the pear bread and the slices of pears (and the mounds of frozen peach slices).  During the winter, I'll grab one of those pear pies, poke holes in the top before baking to allow the steam to escape, and bake it!


The best part of finishing up those pies....the lug was empty!  I worked my way through that whole lug of fruit and the fruit flies didn't win!  Amazing!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Free Peace

God is first in my life and my utmost purpose in this life is to praise and worship Him, which I gladly do.  Not out of duty at all....but out of a natural reaction for all He is to me.  For the most part, it is easy to worship Him.  Take a look around...we have such a beautiful world to live in, most of us have homes, most of us have ones that love us, we have food and water.  We are well taken cared of.  Some would say we have it all.  On top of the worldly things He has forgiven my sins, washed me up, put my feet on solid rock and promises to never leave me nor forsake me.  And He has been true to His word!  Thus, the natural reaction on my part is to love, worship and praise Him!

And then there comes a day like today where my heart feels ripped out of my chest.  Another dear friend, given the word cancer in her life.  Today is surgery and unknowns for her.  Yesterday on the phone I could hear in her voice the steadfastness of God.  She had no fear the day before having surgery to remove a kidney that is carrying a huge mass on it.  I called her to pray with her and to encourage her and yet, she was the one exuding God!!  Amazing.  In fact, she was out mowing her lawn.  Would YOU be out mowing your lawn the day before surgery for a cancerous kidney? 

How can she do that?  Some of you already know the answer.  For you that don't, I'm glad you are here.  There is One that gives us Peace that surpasses and surprises our understanding.  Suzi, my friend, has that Peace.  He is living in her heart.  He is a Friend, a Mighty Thunder, a Victorious Warrior, the Lover of her Soul and He is that to me.  He is God.  He is Jesus.  He is the Holy Spirit.

If you don't have peace in your life right now, take a wild step and talk to Him.  Ask Him to show Himself to you.  Ask Him to reveal Himself to you but be prepared because He will.  He loves for us to know Him more and more.  It may not be conventional as He is so much bigger than conventional.  I'd be really curious to hear what He has to say to you if you'd be willing to post back to me.  My email is under the profile link. Go for it!

I drove Kidlet Three to school this morning.  I got my hug today, too!  He is two for two on giving me hugs now!  Driving back home guess which CD I had on...I'm not really a Newsboys junkie but the music is feeding my soul these days.  Would you believe I opened the sun roof and I sang at the top of my lungs, in between the sobs as I prayed for Suzi, this song called In The Hands of God by the Newsboys.  They get credit for this awesome song. 

Suzi, this is for you because you know His hands and He is carrying you!!!  And I'm cheering you on baby!!!  All day you are in my prayers and I'm thanking God for you, for the way He leaks out of you and for the many lives you are going to touch for God in this journey.  You have many days and years left to worship and praise God with all of us!!!

In The Hands of God
We have raised our hopes and our cities high
We have followed fragile dreams
But only One could take the measure of our goals
And we've stumbled over the trials of life
And we've wrestled the unseen
But only One can calm the storm inside our souls.

In the hands of God we will fall
Rest for the restless, and the weary
Hope for the sinner
In the hands of God we stand tall
Hands that are mighty to deliver
Giving us freedom

When our strength gave way to the weight of guilt
'Til we strained for every breath
Only One could lift our shame and make us well
And when all is finished and we face
The fearsome power of death
Only One has overcome the gates of hell

You're amazing
You're amazing, You are
And we praise You, Lord
For what Your hands have done.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Seriously, this is what it (life) is all about

A co-worker sent me a YouTube clip that left me speechless and sobbing.  I've watched it a couple of times and with the same reaction. 

My blog site is about being Amazed at God.  And I am definitely amazed by Him.  There isn't a day that goes by that I'm not stopped by something or someone that I know God put in my life....just for me.  Tonight picking raspberries I stopped and looked at those drooping branches that produced the biggest, plumpest berries.  What a God to have created raspberries because He knew we would enjoy them and the birds needed them!  He didn't have to do that! 

but

He

did

and He would've done it just for me. 

My heart aches and swells for my Father, His Son Jesus and My Friend the Holy Spirit.  Words cannot describe the love that I have for Him.

Watch this YouTube clip.  If you have any questions about the scenes in it, I'd love to explain what each of the clips is about.  They represent true events that have occurred.

Oh God, You amaze ME!  Thank you (doesn't seem sufficient...)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lbx8ua1B1p4

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Purse-nickity

Confession time.  I am a One-Purse-Woman.  None of this "a purse for this outfit" or a "work purse" and "fun purse".  I have one purse.  Well, I do have a summer purse and then switch to a winter purse.  Tan for the summer and black for the winter.  Usually the purses come from Target, WalMart or Shopko.  Tucked away in the back of my closet is this dinky purse for elegant social events aka weddings.  A lipstick, keys and glucose tablets for Kidlet Three fit in the dinky purse.  You know, the barest of essentials.  Back to the One-Purse confession.

Kidlet One and I traveled to New York City.  Before we left, work colleagues were encouraging me to find the best deals on Coach purses while on the trip.  There was a problem.  Coach purses aren't sold where I shop so I had to do some homework on that topic.  Noting the prices on these purses and noting the fact my sensible Target purses hold up just fine, there was just no way that a Coach was needed in my One-Purse-Life.

And in NYC, on almost every populated street, someone would walk up to me and whisper "Coach, you want Coach"?  Maybe my ratty-tatty backpack was so ugly they thought I should replace it with a Coach?   Seriously, when walking into Macy's and seeing the REAL Coach purses with the multiple digits in the price, we all know that the whispered deals on the streets were not the real deal but the knock-off-pretend versions.  I was not interested.

Until, Chinatown.

Kidlet One decided she wanted  needed a designer purse.  She bought such a cute Dolce & Gabbana purse for $15 that I became slightly interested in shopping.  Shop after shop had D&G purses but no Coach.  The Whispering Coach People were on the streets in Chinatown, too.  We didn't give in and headed back to our hotel.  First thing the next morning, Kidlet One wakes me up saying "I want to go back to Chinatown".   Back we went buying perfume, scarves and other D&G purses.  Yup, my trusty black winter purse is a Dolce & Gabbana that I absolutely love and it cost me....$20. 

One of the Whispering Street Vendors was really nice and told us to have a nice day and he looked us in the eye as he said it.  Something inside of, can't say it was the God Nudge, prompted me to give in and I said we were interested in Coach.  Well, off he went and we almost had to run to keep up with him.  Way to the back of his store to a wall that didn't have door until he pressed a button and secret door swung open into a room lined with Coach, Gucci and Chanel purses.  Kidlet One sucked in her breath and exclaimed "OHHHHH MOM!!!!"  I knew that was what she had come for so into the secret room we went.  Three Coach purses later we left the secret room with our purchases in black garbage bags.  Our total bill came to $90 ($30 a purse).


The purse I bought ended up being too small so I swapped with Kidlet One recently.  This fake-oh Coach has been my One-Purse for the summer.  Isn't it cute!


Until the handles broke.  All four of them have pulled apart.  My Dad, being Trusty Handy Man, put pop rivets in my Coach purse to hold the handles on.  Note the silver studs in the picture. 


Even the pop rivets haven't held.  I've had to succumb to using major clips from my desk to hold my purse handles together (SuperGlue, hot glue, all glues I've tried won't hold the plastic together).  Haven't I really "classed up" my Summer-One-Purse? 

I don't think I'm that Purse-nickity.  However, the amount of time and energy I've put into maintaining this Coach-Wannabe is reaching the Not-Worth-It point. 

I may be the only person wanting winter to arrive so I can retire the Summer-One-Purse with the Winter-One-Purse that doesn't need paperclip handles!

Do you have a fun purse story?  Share it with me!!!