Sunday, September 28, 2008

Embracing Autumn


Summer is giving way to fall. There is no getting around it. 

I love summer, and even though fall is beautiful, it is hard to face the inevitable and let summer go. (Especially for us northerners.) 

So I did something crazy. I took a little trip to say goodbye to summer. The day I went to this little town with Carla (look closely at the photo below or click on it to find out where I was), I just knew I needed to go back with my camera before the flowers had frozen, but after the leaves started turning.  

This past week offered me the perfect day.

Goodbye summer...we'll miss you!  But there are leaves to be raked and jumped in, thanks to be given, celebrations to be had, snowmen to be built, seeds to be planted...well, really, you'll be back before we know it!

"So here's what I want you to do, God helping you:  Take your everyday, ordinary life--your sleeping, eating, going to work, and walking-around life--and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him."  Romans 12: 1 (The Message)

Is there anything you need to let go?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Patriotic Plaid Pizza Pastry


In case you haven't heard, Hot Tub Lizzy is running for president.  I will say right here that there is rarely a candidate that I can vote for wholeheartedly because I think they will represent my viewpoints.  But Lizzy has a down-to-earth, no-nonsense, non-partisan approach that actually represents me amazingly well.  You can check out her platform for yourself.  (And yes, I find it mildly unsettling that her message is published on the left side of her blog, but I don't let it bother me.  Much.)

One thing that I SO resonate with is Lizzy's effort to bring people together around something we can all agree on: food!  So she is having a recipe contest, and since she is neither red nor blue, but plaid, I decided to submit a recipe in Patriotic Plaid--our stars and stripes, of course! And when I win, I will get an awesome sweatshirt with Lizzy's fuzzy duck logo on it, and be the envy of all!

So with no further ado, here it is:

Patriotic Plaid Pizza Pastry

Base:
1 tube refrigerated sugar cookie dough
A variety of fruits and berries (In this case, red white and blue--strawberries, raspberries, bananas and blueberries--but a lovely variety of plaids can be made by using any of your favorites!)

Icing:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
8 oz. container of whipped cream (e.g. Cool Whip)

Glaze:
1/2 cup sugar
1 T. corn starch
1/2 cup orange juice
2 T. lemon juice
1/4 cup water
dash salt

Crust:  Allow dough to soften at room temperature, and press cookie dough out on large cookie sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Bake as directed on package until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.

Icing:  Mix cream cheese with whipped cream and spread over cooled cookie crust.

Fruit:  Cut and arrange in flag or other plaid design on top of icing, making sure fruit is well blotted beforehand so it doesn't get soupy. (In case you're not so much into plaid, you can also use a round pizza pan and arrange a variety of colors in a circle.)

Glaze:  Combine sugar, corn starch, and salt in a pan. Stir in orange juice, lemon juice and water; boil 1 minute, remove from heat and let cool. Drizzle glaze over pizza and refrigerate overnight.

Scrumptious!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Lucky Me!


Look at this! Dawn over at Dawn of My Day nominated me for this award! It is called Arte y Pico, and when I looked it up, it sort of loosely means BEAUTIFUL. Wow, thanks, Dawn!  Dawn has a new gorgeous blog design, so she really deserves it herself.  Go see for yourself!

The idea is to pass it along to others who are making the blogosphere beautiful. So I am going to choose five blogs which I immediately recognized as "eye candy" when I first saw them. I think you'll see what I mean.  



1. Mary D. at Life Sights...Mary is my sister-in-law, and she is the one who got me started using a blog to share photos. She is also the one who got me taking pictures of food. It still makes me laugh, but hey, food is as colorful as my kids, and it HOLDS STILL! Her photos are in West Africa where they live, so they have a unique perspective.

2. Susan at Short on Words...she just takes the most gorgeous pictures! She makes it look like her family is always on vacation.

3. Melissa at A Little Loveliness...lovely indeed! This is the girliest blog ever!

4. Lauren at Trailing Spouse in Kathmandu...a snapshot--well, MANY snapshots--of life in Nepal. Amazing!

5. Tabitha at Fresh Mommy...she has great photos, but I also love the way she incorporates color into her text along with colorful words. Just delightful.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday Snippets

I love my church family.  Our vision statement calls us "...a vibrant, diverse family of faith". Today our vibrant diversity had a great chance to shine at our picnic. We have a Cambodian church that meets in another part of our building, and quite a group of Hispanics that are endeavoring to start a Spanish-speaking church. We have African Americans and a good number of bi-racial families. Everyone was there, having fun together.

We were celebrating the fact that after seven long years of planning, we are making final preparations to break ground on a new addition to our building, as soon as next month. I have been the prayer team leader and part of the leadership team for this effort we call Faith Builders since Bethany was a baby. And now, finally, our dreams are becoming a reality. Believe me when I say that there have been MANY detours in this process.  But it was more important that we arrive here together than it was that we arrive here quickly, so today I am thanking the Lord that we met and worshiped and fellowshiped as ONE today. It was a beautiful, beautiful thing.

There is another reason I've been appreciating my church family lately. First a little background:

We belong to a Baptist church, and when we have babies, we dedicate them to the Lord in the worship service, much like a baptism, only without the water. We believe this is really about a commitment on the part of the family and the church to raise the child to know about the Lord, and has nothing to do with the child's salvation. Later, once the child has come to the place where he is certain of his desire to live a life of faith in Christ, he can make the decision, as he feels led, to make a public proclamation of his faith through baptism. 

Let me just say that our church family has gone above and beyond the call of duty in nurturing our kids in their faith.  There have been individuals too numerous to count who have taught them in Sunday school, Vacation Bible School, and many other programs.  They have treasured and spoiled our kids.  They have high-fived them and asked them about baseball and appreciated their outfits.  They have embodied the love of Christ to our kids. Like crazy!

So it's no wonder that this summer Ben decided it was time to be baptized. He has believed in Jesus all his life, and has made a conscious choice to follow Him. And now it was time to let everyone know.  So here's how it went:

video

Ben understands how important his church family has been too.  He asked if he could be baptized at both services so everyone could see. 

Thank you, Lord, for our church family.

P.S.  Ben did not sprout a halo under there.  We are saved by GRACE through faith--all of us!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Priorities

Just yesterday I told a friend of mine that if there were one month that I could have two of, I would choose September.  One to organize our life, and one to live it. 

I LOVE the weather.  The new routines.  Getting reacquainted with friends from Bible study, Moms in Touch, kids' sports.  Volunteering at school.  Accepting new challenges.

But it is hard to get everything done without missing some details.  This week I forgot to remind Ben to look back over his study guide for his crayfish test (good thing we had studied it once!). He missed four. I bet that will help him remember on his own the next time. Not a bad thing.

This is a time of year when I try to really get my spiritual life back in gear, because the lack of summer structure (and constant presence of kids) is often a deterrent. This is my top priority in the midst of trying to order everything else.  If I neglect to seek God's face in the midst of all the new things, the rest will fall apart.

This past Sunday, the sermon topic was, "In the beginning, God..." We were challenged to ponder the fact that God is the initiator in our lives.  Not only the creator, but the one who is moving in our lives day by day, and new year by new year.  We were posed the question, "What has God been doing in your life?  What has He been saying to you?" Wouldn't you know, the very next day, the same question of "What is God saying to you?" showed up in my Bible study! I've been thinking about this all week, and I am excited to keep track of where I sense Him at work, opening and closing doors, nudging me in new directions.  He has my attention!

"Forget the former things; 
do not dwell on the past.  
See, I am doing a new thing!  
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  
I am making a way in the desert 
and streams in the wasteland."  
Isaiah 43:18-19

How about you?  What is God doing or saying in your life?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Girl Time!



Today I had a very fun day with my friend Carla.  We headed down to a few quaint little towns along the river for lunch and shopping.  It was a misty sort of a day, but not cold or windy, so it was quite pleasant.

We had a very tasty lunch at this cute place, and discovered they had Bridgeman's ice cream. Peppermint bon bon no less!!

Then we went shopping in this beautiful town. They were having a diversity fair. The Germans had a booth, as well as the Sons of Norway, we were told.  Now that's diversity for ya! We didn't partake.

Look at this cool truck...

Wait a minute!  What's the name of the store behind it??  Yooouuu got it!  The Uffda Shop!

It was a visit back to my Scandihuvian (the Scandinavian word for Scandinavian) roots (rhymes with "foots") fer sure. They had a sweatshirt that I nearly had to buy.  It said, "What part of uffda do you not understand?"  HA!  It seriously made me want to come home and make some lefse.  One of these days I will, and I'll show you this scrumptious stuff.  Do not mistake it for anything made out of fish.  That would be lutefisk, and there is absolutely no connection between the two.  Trust me, I would not be making that stuff.  Uffda.

I couldn't resist taking a bunch of pictures of the town.   There were huge baskets and containers of petunias everywhere, and I loved the way the rain made the colors even more vivid.


Nothing like a little getaway to recharge your batteries, I say.  Thank God for good friends!


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Howdy, pilgrim!

What an amazing day I had yesterday with so many new people from SITS along for The Journey. There were roughly 150 people who left about 275 new comments on my blog. Whoa! Boy, do I have the destinations lined up for the next several days--I can't wait to repay all the visits!

So now that the dust is settling, here are a few observations:

1. You are all on some amazing journeys, and I LOVED the variety of responses to my question about where you've been and where you're going (or dreaming of going). Journeys to...

marriage
parenthood
the empty nest
mountaintops
tropical paradises
faraway countries
contentment
self discovery
aging gracefully

They are all inspiring, and I can't wait to stop in and join you!

2. I'm so glad I'm not the only "thrifty" girl in the bunch. But I need to issue a disclaimer. We do not get a newspaper, so the only coupons I use are the ones in the mail or on the products, plus a few online. My time is too valuable and I can't stand clutter, especially paper clutter. So I'm sure a lot of you have saved WAY more than me that way. We hold to the theory that your things own you, so we just try to avoid purchases that will take up too much of our time or space, and wait for good deals on things we do choose to buy. I think the best advice with money is to not be in a hurry to spend it.

3. For all you Mac users, the link about what to do if your Mac Book's battery won't hold a charge is HERE.

4. I'm also glad to know I'm not the only one with kids who turn into creative geniuses when it's time to clean. AND that they're not the only ones who get it from their mom. But what I want to know is, do they have any hope at all of becoming tidy adults? Anyone?

5. My sister and brother are twins (TOTAL opposites), which is probably part of the reason why Ben understood that opposite gender twins can't be identical. But I just want to say that I was thrilled to have someone actually admit that they snorted over his comment, because I sure did!

6. I just started a brand new Beth Moore Bible study for the fall called "Stepping Up: A journey through the Psalms of Ascent". (Can I get an AMEN for Beth Moore?) It seems so fitting to me that the theme is about being on a pilgrimage--not just a journey forward, but a journey upward.  The very first verse is 1 Peter 5:6, which says, "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time." A great challenge to those of us who are prone to try to pull ourselves up rather than admitting our dire need for help. Verse 7 says, "Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you." Good stuff!  

Thanks again for traveling this road with me.  May yours find you heading forward AND upward today.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A little company for the journey

Today's stretch of the road will be especially fun because I'm meeting up with some friends. Some have stopped in before, and others will be new, but today we will all cross paths here. I'm so excited!


These friends will be coming by from one of my own favorite destinations:  "The Secret is in the Sauce", aka "SITS".  This smashingly successful online community is the brainchild of Heather and Tiffany, and it is obviously meeting the needs of hundreds of people who need a place to belong. Kind of like going to "Cheers" when you don't happen to have the freedom to leave your house everyday for a few hours to get together with your buddies. Very cool.

So welcome, everyone, to The Journey.  I feel a little like Forrest Gump, welcoming this amazingly diverse group of visitors to travel the road with me for a piece. Really, it belongs to all of us.  

But since I have you with me, I'd love to know what some of YOUR favorite destinations have been, or where you'd like to go next.  (And remember, not all destinations are geographic.) Feel free to share your answer in the comments!

And whether your journey has you on a mountaintop, in a valley, on a racetrack, at a rest stop, a road block, or a construction zone, I hope you find a blessing here.  I'm so glad you stopped by, and I hope you'll come back soon.

SITS Girls:  Here are links to the day's sightseeing stops to make it easier for you.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Moms In Touch

Yesterday I promised to come back today with something that makes a difference to my kids while they are in school.  A big difference.

Let me go back to my teaching days, before I had kids of my own.  On a radio program one day, I heard about an organization that had groups of moms praying for their kids and their schools. Praying for the school's staff and student body.  I thought to myself, "Oh what I wouldn't give to know that there were moms out there praying for me, and for my students. Praying that I would be effective. Praying that I would reach kids that are hard to reach, and challenge kids that need a challenge. Praying that I would keep my cool with kids who challenge me. Praying that God's love would shine through me to my students and colleagues. Praying that God would turn the impossible into a possibility."  I wished for the day that there would be a Moms In Touch group for my school, and dreamed of the day that I would have kids of my own and participate in a Moms In Touch group for their school.

Three years ago, when Ben started kindergarten, my dream came true.  I logged on to the MIT website in the summer, did a search for our school, and voila!  There was already a group.  So I contacted the leader, and got ready to attend my first meeting in one of the members' homes. When I left that day, I was thrilled and disappointed all at once.  I thought, "These are women I would love to be friends with, but it will take forever to get to know them because all they do is pray." And it is true. The very beautiful thing about Moms In Touch is that if the group is run according to the organizational plan, we arrive, we pray, and we go on our way. There is not much time for chit-chat, and there is no time for airing complaints about school or our kids or husbands...we direct it all to the Lord and leave it with Him, because HE can do something about it. And let me tell you, He does. More about that later.

These women are now some of the most precious friends in my life.  It did take some time, but it was worth the wait.  Oh, so worth it.

This year I am taking over the leadership of our group.  I'm thinking of sharing some of our focal verses and thoughts here this year so if you're not in an MIT group you can find out a little more about what it's like.  I'll give it a try next week.  But why wait?  If you have kids in school, why not check now to see if there is a Moms In Touch group for your school?  If there isn't, maybe you should start one. You won't be sorry! And you will be amazed by the difference it makes.

The Difference 24 Hours Makes



If you read my "Back to School" post,  you will be happy to see what happened the next morning. I was so concerned that after a rough first day, Bethany would have a hard time getting into the swing of things. But with two doses of the pink stuff under her belt, she jumped out of bed, ate breakfast, finished getting ready and headed for the door. I told her she was way early, but that she could go outside and play until it was time. A few minutes later I grabbed the camera to capture her first healthy day of school.  She was already at the bus stop...with the middle school kids. And the bus was there. But it was the middle school bus, not her bus.  And she....

did not get on.  My smart girl knows her bus number, after all! Boy it was good to see her back to her old self so fast. She LOVES school!

There's something that makes an even bigger difference at school than 24 hours. But that's my next post. Stay tuned...

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Our Boy is NINE!

Lee wrote the sweetest thing on Ben's card while I was making this little scrapbook page.  He said I could use it.  It says it all.

Dear Ben,

We are proud of you for who you are.  You are 

honest, 
funny, 
happy, 
loving, 
thoughtful, 
and cheerful.

Looking to the future, we can only imagine the ways in which God will further mold and shape your character, but we do know that we don't want to miss any of it.

Love,
Dad and Mom


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Garden Visitor

Back to School...?

If you read my "back to school" post last year, you may have come back today in eager anticipation. It was one of my favorite posts ever, and I myself was wondering just what I might say of any consequence this year by comparison. And yes, I have also eagerly anticipated today. Because, let's just say, my kids have been needing a break from me.



Bethany is in second grade.  I LOVE second grade.  Taught it for many years.  She has been so excited about having Ben's teacher from last year, and having her best friend in her class.  And this year she knows lots of kids in her class.  Nice ones.  Couldn't be better.  Right, Bethany? Bethany?  Bethany!  The bus is here!  Are you ready??




Oh, HERE you are!
 

Well, as it turns out, it's hard to get up for school after being up all night with a bit of an earache. Worrying about what will happen if you go to school with said earache. Worrying about what will happen if you don't go to school. All that crying and moaning can be exhausting. Even if Mom does stay in your room to comfort and reassure you the whole time.

Well, go back to sleep if you need to, but unless you have a fever, you must face the First Day Jitters head on when you wake. Yes, you must. Because the only thing worse than First Day Jitters is Second Day Jitters. I don't even want to imagine it.

In the end, I dragged her to school late, kicking and screaming gave her my best pep talk and took her to school so the nurse could check out her ear and sweet talk her into going to class let us know what she recommended.  She thought it looked ok, and that Bethany could wait to see a doctor after school.  And yes, she has an ear infection.  In both ears.  But she was quite pleased with her day, and we are all finished with another year of First Day Jitters. Hallelujah for that!

Monday, September 1, 2008

2008 Garden Chronicles: A moral victory

If you read this post about this guy,

you might have agreed with me in the spring that it was not looking good for my garden.  Not only was the rabbit wreaking havoc, but then came the hail. 

Not too optimistic, I did what I often do. When the roadside garden stores started their half price sales in mid-June, I went and bought a bunch of plants. I always figure if you plant enough, there will be some the rabbits won't like, and the less space you leave the more likely they will be to move out to the lawn and start eating the clover. I wouldn't have bet it would work when they gobbled down my marigolds. Marigolds, for crying out loud! Greedy buggers.

Well, I will never be a master gardener with this approach, but here is the view from my kitchen:

Not bad for hopeless, I'd say! Here's a closer look:

Affirmed again for planting my flowers on top of each other.  Best. Rabbit. Repellant. Ever! My husband may or may not have done a little something of his own to protect my investment. We won't worry about that.

I saved the best for Wordless Wednesday!