December 30, 2011

Several Drummers Leaping/Piping/Dancing?

When people sing The Twelve Days of Christmas, it gets old fast. People usually can't remember if the drummers drumming or Lords a-leaping or ladies milking are day 6, 7 or 8. By the time you get past FIVE GOLDEN RINGS people get silly and don't take it seriously anymore.  Consider that my excuse for the past few days. :)

Hard to believe that this is the 9th day of Emma. The past few days have gone by in a blur. I will try to recap just a little bit of it.

1. There was a lot of hiking. We just moved into a new neighborhood in Phoenix by the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, so we are getting out walking or hiking. About 3 minutes in the car and we are at trailheads that head off into the desert landscape and either up or through desert mountains. I prefer through, but Charles, Emma and Maggie have been up several of them this week too.

2.There have been a lot of friends coming, going and staying. We have this tradition....or lack of planning?....that Emma's friends just come, spending day and/or night and I just need to know how many to cook dinner for. It's been this way since Tuesday. We love it. A lot of them are the regulars who have been doing this for 5 years at our house and some are newer. It's amazing to see a group of friends from freshman in high school through sophomore in college ages. They change a LOT and I'm really pleased to see how they've grown and are getting independent and grown up!

3. Wii Just Dance. Just about all of the above mentioned friends have been coerced into playing Just Dance on the Wii game station. Last night there was a big group here and they were really squealing and shouting and laughing so loud that I had to come out and watch for a while too.

4. Netflix. We signed up for a free month and all the people who are hanging out here are watching or at least talking about old shows they used to love when they were little. It is funny to see the different personalities they have but all of them have some cultural iconishness in common from watching the same goofy television shows or movies.  They would mention an old show they remembered and there were several minutes of saying quotes from it or singing the theme songs. So I mentioned Andy Griffith as we scrolled past it on the menu. They all just kind of look at me. Weird people.

5. Eating. I purposely put out all my leftover wonderful Christmas baked goods that have made their way into my house and they have amazingly disappeared! Maisy, our dog, was heavily influenced by this grazing of anything within reach. In fact, we would call her opportunistic ways greedy and gluttonous. She ate a large sized chocolate bar that was in a Christmas stocking.....along with most of the foil wrapper. We worried about her for one day but she doesn't seem to be in distress from it.  She's just a little heavier to pick up.

6. Playing. There has been a little golfing, Settlers of Catan has been almost permanently on my dining room table, today there was  a little remote control helicopter flying around the house (very cool!), and the sounds of Plants vs. Zombies. (yuck) Of course, the best sound of all the games is the laughter and enjoyment from being together again.

7. My favorite thing of the week was tonight though. Maggie was gone to a youth lock in, Hannah was at work and Beth across town on a date, and it was just Charles and I in the living room. Emma and  Sara (the last extra left for the evening) were getting ready to go to the lock in for the worship service.  Then we heard Emma pick up her guitar and start strumming and singing. She sang Slow Fade, Big House, and How He Loves Us. She and Sara sang loud with harmony and passion.

It made my throat get a big lump in it and tears ready to squirt out with gratefulness at how they have taken their faith as their own and are serving God as young adults. The world is loudly beckoning at them to join in the ruckus and they are keeping their focus. After sending our Emma out into the world to be on her own for college last year or to be owned by the army this year, it was so refreshing to see how her faith and passion is becoming stronger than ever.
Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:30-31 (NLT)

December 26, 2011

Day 5 almost finishes us was fun!

Emma and Hannah

Christmas Day started out busy busy and ended just perfectly, with everyone quietly in their own nook of the house, enjoying new little gadgets or books.

Charles was up cooking bacon early, which rouses everyone from sleep even though there were no gifts to open. The frozen waffles were in the oven by 8am and were eating Christmas breakfast by 8:20. My waffle maker gave up on us after last Christmas but the frozen Belgian waffles were actually better than my old maker could ever make them. Bacon, waffles with berries, real maple syrup and lots of pffft (canned whipped cream) and you have a Christmas feast that was gobbled up quickly so everyone could primp for church.

Christmas on a Sunday always throws us off, but we were glad to be in the house of the Lord this morning and it was a really nice service. Charles, Emma and I took two people home afterwards and didn't get back until almost 1pm. But they are dear people and their joy at being with us and Emma on Christmas for a while made it worth the time.

By the time we got there, some of my sisters had already arrived and were setting out appetizers and cooking and generally taking over. I was glad of it too, after a busy morning. I had planned on using my grandmother's old china, then we settled on paper plates instead, to save on work for everyone. But having used all my nice Christmassy paper plates for various little parties, we had to use leftover plates from different patterned paper products....some red, some blue and some orange.

And NO ONE cared! They got covered with food anyway. :)

My niece Bobbie, and sisters Jodi, me, Becky, and Julie watching croquet.

After lounging around a bit after eating dinner, we got out one of the girls' gifts....Just Dance 2 for the Wii. Two at a time all of my sisters, then all of my daughters and nieces, got up and danced to the characters on the Wii screen. SO FUN! We laughed and laughed. There was croquet, sitting out in the sun watching croquet, monopoly, cards, naps were taken loudly...zzzzzzz.... and football was watched when the men could usurp the television after all that loud napping. They all watched Cars 2 also. Hannah's boyfriend Sam was here with us all day, as his family is in Oregon and he and my 5 year old nephew had a lot of fun playing together.
Best quote of the day....
Gabriel: Sam, you're on MY team
(light saber in hand)
Sam: Okay, who's on the other team?
Gabriel: The grown ups!
Around 8pm people were gathering up their things and saying their goodnights. It was a wonderful, relaxing, fun day with family. I came back into the house, our dog Maisy was trying to gulp something down and I noticed brown crumbs all over the dining room. Someone has stolen the last of the brownies, taking full advantage of the good-bying....naughty, not nice.

As people were settling into their own spaces, Emma left went out the door with her boyfriend Tim and his family to see the new Mission Impossible movie. I can't even imagine the kind of energy you have when you are college aged anymore.

Before going to bed though, I wanted to try out the new facial peel mask Hannah gave me. It's blackberry something from Bath and Body Works and smells lovely, but it is as black as black shoe polish! Very scary to put it on your face. And I guess it was pretty funny to others because when I came out to get a glass of water, people were falling down laughing. I looked like an ole time minstrel singer, which was apparently hilarious...... It did peel off nicely and felt good afterward, so that was a relief. It was so nice to get into bed, all clean and it was so warm.... the time Emma got home from the movie, there was no one awake, not even a mouse....or naughty dog.

The 4th Day of Emma

I wish I had taken some pictures, but I was too busy enjoying myself to think of it!

Christmas Eve found us bustling around getting the house ready for Christmas. Charles took us all to Olive Garden for a late lunch, then a third of our group went to music rehearsal for the evening service. I love Christmas Eve candlelight church service. It feels warm and people are all aglow, hugging and handing each other cards or little gifts.

We worshiped God in song and spirit. We got hot wax treatments on our hands. ;) Part of the fun of a candlelight service is the delicate balance of keeping the dripping wax on your little flat paper candle skirt. The candle won...

On the way home we stopped by a house in our old neighborhood. Every December they put up an elaborate light display and the man of the house, who is a very talented engineer of some kind, sets the lights to music and they are really the best I've ever seen! He puts together a half hour production with various types of Christmas music, from Mannheim Steamroller to Veggie Tales I Can't Believe It's Christmas and Bing Crosby. So fun!

Another tradition is to watch The Polar Express on Christmas Eve just before bed. We turn up the surround sound so it feels like the train is coming through our family room. When it was over I mentioned quietly how creepy that movie is and my daughters were all saying, "YES, it is! I wondered if I was the only one who was creeped out by it!" haha So after the creepy Christmas movie.....

For the first time....


...we opened gifts on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas morning! Very nontraditional and strange, but of course it was fun and this year it was necessary because the Preacher had to be at church at 9:30am. And we had to have waffles, so to save us from frantic chaos on Christmas morning, we opened gifts.

When your children start becoming young adults, the presents are not as exciting or fun to open, but we did have one exciting gift. When we were all done and about to clean up the debri the Christmas tree started to play music box type music. We all just stared at it for a few seconds and then we sent Maggie to find the music box.

And it wasn't a music box. It was a cell phone. Maggie's first cell phone.

And there has been rejoicing and texting ever since.

December 24, 2011

Three days of fun.....

Christmas shopping is done and the house is clean. Let Christmas weekend begin!

I know Christmas rushes by and the stress of having everything done and bought and baked is high this year...for me at least. But take a few minutes when you are walking through your decorated house or see a Christmas window display and take some time to enjoy it. Really see things and appreciate what you've go this Christmas.

Since I am taking pictures every day while Emma is here for the holidays, I am capturing some moments I've been enjoying. It's been good to not only live through these days, but also to enjoy them and capture them in my mind and heart.

And if these pictures aren't enough, I wish I had taken one just now as I went to turn off lights. I found Emma, all by herself, watching Winnie the Pooh in the family room. ;) That's my soldier.

Maggie and her Pooh Bear cookie.

Maggie, Emma, Tim
Bethany, Sam
Sam and Hannah

Minions, Charlie Brown cast, Sully from Monsters Inc, hula girl and streaker.

December 23, 2011

On the second day of Emma...

Last night was sister night. For the past 3 years my daughters have been going to see The Nutcracker ballet the week before Christmas together. They get all dressed up and for over an hour makeup, hairspray and shoes fly around while they get ready.

Then we take pictures just before they dash away.

Hannah, Emma, Maggie and Beth

With Samuel.

With Sam and Jessica.

These are the only Christmas gifts I'm needing these days....warm, happy hearts and lots of love and fun. We are blessed to have each other!

December 22, 2011

Twelve Days: Homecoming

After a 3 hour delay our dear girl came down the airport corridor and into our arms yesterday. She's been at basic and MP training in Missouri since September 6 and it was a long fall! Only one call per week on Sundays (if they got their privileges that week), sparse but wonderful letters and a Facebook fan page were the only form of information and communication with her for the past 4 months. And now she is on holiday leave for 12 days! With us!

We are calling it The Twelve Days of Emma. Bring it!

Day one was celebrated caroling with our church and reunions with friends of Emma who came caroling. Then we came home and finished decorating our Christmas tree. We put it up in early December, but it's only had lights and ribbon on it until last night. We had a little Christmas decorating party with Christmas punch, Fritos and Bean Dip® and little round wedding cake cookies.


Things we see in a city on a daily basis become invisible to us for most people. Our focus is on other things and our brain becomes a selective filtering device tailored to our own interests and causes.

Our church is large. It sits right on a very busy city street on a large, uncrowded lot. A huge sanctuary with a large swooping A frame roof and two large two story buildings behind and beside it. Yet people who travel that street daily do not know it's there. It doesn't interest is not their "cause".

We are always trying to think of ideas to let our neighborhood know we care about them as a church. The desire at the core of our church is to reach our neighborhood with Christ's love. So last night my husband (our pastor) organized a Christmas caroling outreach for our neighbors. He chose the streets right across the busy street from our church. The people who live on that street must look directly at our building as they drive west every day, out to the main road.

We went to each house on three streets, rang the doorbell and left a professional looking flier and candy cane on their porch while the group sang from the street. So as they took the prepared flier, wishing them a Merry Christmas and inviting them to our Christmas services, I wondered if they recognized the name of the church or had ever looked our direction.

Only a handful of people peeked out from darkened windows, not wanting to be seen or talked to. At most of the houses, the people came out onto the porch, smiling, enjoying the songs and the "spirit of Christmas". Young couples, older retired people, single adults and families with little children gathered at their open doors to smile and thank us as we sang. One woman couldn't get over the fact that we were caroling. She hadn't seen carolers in years and years and she was thrilled! She spent several minutes with a few of our people after we'd moved on to the next house asking about our group and church and thanking them.

I think it was so well received that we'll probably make it a yearly event. Mission accomplished with a very old fashioned holiday tradition.....we made personal contact with our neighbors in a loving, fun way and did something to show them we care.

And we do. And we're praying they will find out God cares deeply about them too.

December 8, 2011

Our finest gifts we bring pah rum pah pum pum

While you are making your list, include one for Jesus.
(It's His birthday)

Bring Him your best gift....something just for Him.....
and bless Him, make Him smile. 

 ...whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
(1 Cor 10:31)

I saw this video this morning
and was smiling all the way through!
So joyful. 

December 6, 2011

Scrambling up the holidays

We have moved and settled into a new house! Some friends of ours bought this house as an investment and they wanted us to rent it from them (for a great deal) so they'd have renters they knew and trusted. Having never lived in such a large, beautiful home before, we are loving it! Gradually we moved our things over during the last half of November. Then the last load came over the day before Thanksgiving. And we hosted Thanksgiving dinner here. My sisters helped me organize and put up my home decor, so it was well worth it.

I didn't realize how it would put my brain in a scramble to move during the holidays though. People cringed when I said we were doing this just before Thanksgiving, but I couldn't see it til it was upon me, scrambling my thoughts and natural rhythm of living. (not sure how to word that, but that is what I ended up with) So life right now is about catching up on all that lost time, when I should have been decorating my house for Christmas and making cookies and thinking of things to buy or make. eek!

To mess with my head just a little more, Maggie is in the Christmas play at school, which is now farther away from us. Yesterday I made the drive there and back four times...that makes 2 full hours I was driving in the car. TRAFFICKY ....that was what my theme word for yesterday. (also herds of white cars....I never realized they travel in packs but I kept seeing it) And this year I was going to really try to make the holidays more simplified....when will I learn how to do that?


Well, plays do end (this weekend), decorations eventually make it to their destinations and shopping makes me grouchy anyway. As I was typing this up, I just remembered that I spent a good portion of the past year studying a book inspired by the story of Mary and Martha with some fellow pastors' wives.....

Luke 10  38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. 40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”
 41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Jesus is so smart, isn't He? "Only one thing is worth being concerned about." I wish He followed me around and reminded me of things like that.....

...oh yeah! He does! (you can consider this your reminder too)

November 16, 2011

Conspiracy 2011

We joined up with a conspiracy a couple of years ago. It's a conspiracy to take back the True Spirit of Christmas. Bring back a heart of worship, simplicity, generosity, love.

You are SO blessed. Even those who live in poverty in the United States have so much more than the people living in third world or developing countries. Most of those people do not even have clean water to drink.

So know you are blessed, recognize it! Then do something to bless someone else....every day!

So maybe don't spend so much on yourselves this Christmas. Then help someone else with that money. Here is just one idea on how to do that....this is what being a blessing looks like! Please watch.....

Advent Conspiracy 2010-2011 Thank You from Living Water International on Vimeo.

November 13, 2011

-->Military Mom<--

While channel surfing this afternoon, I landed on a PBS show about women in the military. They are not supposed to be put into combat situations, but it is happening all the time. Independent Lens did a segment on the Lioness warriors. This is an unofficial name because officially they are not actually allowed to be in combat. I was drawn in to this documentary, which followed some of the women who had been involved in war in Iraq and other places. I watched with eyes wide open because we have a daughter who is finishing up boot camp right now.

She is with the National Guard, which is a reserve type branch mainly. Emma will have one weekend a month to be on duty, then 2 weeks training every summer.....unless their unit is deployed. Then they are regular Army soldiers. It makes my heart feel thump-ish and my palms clammy to think about that. Watching the documentary was not helping me feel better, but I definitely feel more educated and in a way, better prepared for what may come.

Then while I was watching it, Emma called. They get a once a week call to home. It lasts about 2 minutes. We wait all week to tell her various things we think of and then when we hear her voice, we forget all the things that seemed important and just listen to her and keep telling her how much we love and miss her.

She said this week was a very hard week for her platoon. They had a 3 day training event out in the woods during a storm with 50-60mph winds, rain, hail and a lot of mud. One of the drill sergeant's said on their facebook page that it would be something similar to what you'd see on scenes from Saving Private Ryan. Lots of GI Joe crawling around under barbed wire while machine guns and grenades are going off all around you. She said today that at times the mud became deep and she had to swim through it. Their clothes were saturated with water, sand and sweat.....then they had to sleep in tents, wet and cold. Next was a 12 mile march in full gear, which is around 40 pounds piled on your back.

She said it was the hardest thing she's ever done.

I hope that she will still be able to say that in 6 years when her enlistment is done. I pray that is the hardest thing she will ever have to do....

October 27, 2011

Unity Like Soup \o/

This morning the air was different in my house. The windows had been open all night and the cool front that came through last night has cooled the temperatures down by about 15 degrees. I love fresh air in the house. It feels and smells different.

I wanted to make soup tonight not just because of the fall weather but also because my oldest daughter now has mono. She can barely tolerate swallowing things that are solid. Leftover broccoli and grated cheese in the fridge got my attention. I haven't made broccoli cheddar soup in years! But we love it, so I carefully followed a recipe from the internet and got a very nice soup. Maybe the reason I don't make it often is because I've had several bad experiences just winging it with broccoli soup. It seems so easy, yet if you don't do it right, it turns out lumpy with separated cheese and thin broth.

The recipe I used is supposed to mimic Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup. The only difference I made in the process was to stir the grated cheese in after I added the milk to the roue, before adding the broth and vegetables. I think it blends better if you add it then, instead of trying to add it to the broth full of broccoli.

After one bowl I had to go change from long sleeves into short. It really warmed me up. Oh, and everyone agreed on the warming's not just because of my hormones this time!

As I was enjoying my soup, I thought of this weekend. I love it when God shows me something in a word picture. I'll be joining some ladies from church for a women's ministry leadership retreat. I am hoping the blending and process of our retreat produces a really comforting and unified blend of leadership for our church. Even though we have great ladies on the team, I think it's still something to pray towards. 

If you've gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Philippians 2:1-2 (The Message)

October 24, 2011

Love and Prayer

About a year ago, life got very hard for three of my close friends. Hard as in, barely able to cope. Hard as in losing your spouse (2 of them through divorce and one is now a widow). Hard like recurring anxiety, health problems, depression and financial difficulties. Oh, and just throw in adult children getting married (planning weddings), having brain surgery, cancer scares, and one who is moving to another country for two years.

How do you help one friend, much less three, go through that kind of year? You just can't. It is too much. There is only one Friend who can help. And He does.

I have been praying for these friends and I have a group of online friends praying for them too. Just lately we have all been in the same small group that meets at my house. Totally unplanned, but absolutely by Divine arrangement, there are two women who are also in our group who have gone through divorce earlier in life and are a testimony of God's care and faithfulness. Even when things in our lives don't go as planned, He is faithful to take care of us and love us.

Lately I have been noticing just how much God has done in the past year in these friends' lives. Despair is starting to lift and joy is slowly returning to each of them. There are still a lot of hard days, but the despair seems to have faded. God has graciously taken care of them and answered prayers for jobs, children, health and finances. He is amazing. He has amazing love for His people.

Last week after small group one of these dear friends asked me how I was doing with a recent health issue. Then she said, "Oh I've been praying for you....wait a minute, let's pray NOW. Come on!" So she and another one of these friends joined hands and prayed with such faith and understanding that when they finished, the other woman holding hands with us just said, "Woah...oh wow," and then continued on with her prayer.

It was such a gift.

The friends I have been walking through their own valleys with this year were lifting ME up (and doing a great job of it). Besides feeling God's power and care, I felt their love for me while they prayed. It was overwhelming. I definitely think there is greater power in prayer when it comes from a place of sincere love and not for God and also for the person you are praying for. Love and understanding. These ladies have seen the power of prayer this past year and were pouring the faith they have gained into ministering to me.

Colossians 4:2 says, Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.

....a mind alert to what the Spirit is telling you to pray for and a thankful heart because you remember what He's done for you.

October 17, 2011

Coming Together

We had a meeting after church yesterday on starting a contemporary service, going to two services on Sunday mornings. Hearing of this kind of meeting is enough to strike havoc into the guts of any church leaders. Very volatile feelings have been known to rise and bubble....even the surface in these kinds of meetings. It was such a wonderfully understanding and considerate meeting though. I was so pleased.

It was just a "what do you think about this" meeting, not a vote or any concrete decisions or plans. So our youth and young adults came to help explain the need for a more contemporary worship. Some of our newer youth, brand new Christians, were so mature and diplomatic. I cried. They talked about how they loved this church for the family feeling and that all the ages communicate and intermingle. They want the higher energy worship music that is relevant to their generation. It is how they express themselves. But don't want to segregate from the older people.

That made the older people feel so appreciated, including me! I'm telling you, it was so cool. Whatever happens with the services, it is so wonderful to know that our church people feel this way about God's family and want to be considerate of each other.

There was no talk of whether this kind of music style was good or bad. None.

The talk focused on not being divisive by having two services and wanting to make sure we would all still fellowship together and see each other regularly. We're a family and when some parts of a family are missing, it's not the same. I totally agree!

What began as a meeting about different styles of worship became a consensus on the unity of the Body of Christ. And how cool is it that we have been going through Ephesians at such a time as this? I love it.

...lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.

...we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
Ephesians 4:1-4, 15-16 NLT

September 22, 2011

What does it mean to be blessed?

There is such a great article over at Living Proof Ministries Blog today. It is exactly the life lesson I had when I visited Mozambique a year ago. You will be blessed to read it!

What does it really mean to be blessed? What does it mean to have enough? Can I really trust myself to answer this former question?

The image is one I took in Mozambique, an offering from one of the church's we visited to bless us. (that is a live chicken in the basket)

Two things I ask of you;

deny them not to me before I die:

Remove far from me falsehood and lying;

give me neither poverty nor riches;

feed me with the food that is needful for me,

lest I be full and deny you

and say, “Who is the LORD?”

or lest I be poor and steal

and profane the name of my God.

Proverbs 30:7-9

September 19, 2011


It is amazing how you can acclimate to different environments. I met Charles in Texas while we were attending seminary in Ft. Worth. It was the coldest winter they had experienced in years. Snow, ice, freezing rain. I bought my first ever winter coat (hey, I grew up in Phoenix). It was wool and cute and I wore it all the time. It was cold. Charles and I started dating and he introduced me to hot tea and the fixing thereof. Kettle boiled only, no microwaved water, ready the mug with a Constant Comment tea bag, pour in the water and steep for at least 3 minutes, stir, squeeze bag and save it for the next cup (we were poor seminary students). Add 2 scant spoons of sugar and a swig of milk. Enjoy with cold fingers wrapped around the mug and your boyfriend right beside you. Nice.

From there we moved to a tiny town in Oklahoma....another 2 years of cold snappish winter for that area. Snow, smell of wood smoke in the air. Then to New Jersey for 10 years, where it is cold all winter long. Lots of snowing and freezing rains and lots of hot tea, winter coats and even boots. The fall there was amazingly quaint and fun. Pumpkin picking hayrides at local farms, mums (NJ is prime mum country!), Ivan's Spiced Wafers, canning produce and absolutely electrified fall colored leaves. It was beautiful in fall and very charming with all the farm stands and atmosphere.

We finally moved back to Arizona, but not to Phoenix. We lived in a small mountain town with a miniature ski area and again, lots of snow, short summers, quick falls and damp springs with all the snow melting.

In other put it shortly....and sum things up....we have always lived (as long as we've been a couple) in cold climates. Brrr, hot tea, sit by the fire, wood smoke in the air.

Then five years ago, we moved to Phoenix, where the high temperature is not under 80 degrees until November. We keep the air conditioner on until then too. It's....different. Last year I had a hard time decorating for Christmas or getting into a holiday mood because it was still warm in late November.

Today is September 20 and the highs have dipped into the 90's for a week now. The mornings are a crisp 78. I have already baked ginger snaps and pumpkin bars. I have been cooking things like potatoes and I am looking up bread recipes. Today it slipped back up to 102 but I still stopped by the grocery store to pick up some more pumpkin and baking supplies.

The manager of that store must be new in town! I asked a worker where the canned pumpkin was hiding. She explained to me in detail how it was not the season for it and they will be carrying it closer to fall.'s almost October.

I think I'm re-climatized now....back to thinking like a Phoenician I guess.

September 13, 2011

Big Soft Ginger Cookies....and dumplings

I signed up to make dinner last night for a church member who had her ankle reconstructed. Chicken and dumplings and soft ginger cookies.

I got there and she was so glad someone brought a dinner. She said "Oh that is so nice. I'm so glad I don't have to eat chicken and dumplings another day." I guess someone else made them for her on Saturday and she's been eating the leftovers.


After I told her I brought chicken and dumplings, we laughed. She was embarrassed and I was laughing.

I thought that was such a nonstandard dish to bring someone, but she said I had brought chicken and dumplings to someone else once (I must block these things from my mind...I have no recollection) and she tasted it and really liked it. At that time she had told me that chicken and dumplings were her favorite meal and she just never made them for herself so she hadn't had them in years.

Well, how do you explain that?? We decided that it was in my subconscious somewhere and that caused me to make them for her.

So funny though, how your subconscious can boss you around like that. Things like that always happen to me!

The ginger cookies were so good, they are all gone! Here is the recipe. It makes a neat 3 dozen 2 inch cookies.

Big soft ginger cookies


• 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons ground ginger
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 cup margarine, softened
• 1 cup white sugar
• 1 egg
• 1 tablespoon water
• 1/4 cup molasses
• 2 tablespoons white sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then stir in the water and molasses. Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the molasses mixture. Shape dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten slightly.

3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

August 17, 2011

Finding Beauty

A young adult friend of mine has had a few years of turmoil as she's entered adulthood. It's hard to process all that your life has been about and to see what God has done in your life unless you really take the time to look back over the years and remember. For many young women, the bad memories scream so loudly that the good memories and experiences get lost and forgotten. And no one has a perfect journey....we all have a broken road.

She a part of her healing process....has a heart for other young women with self-image deficit. I think that needs to be a syndrome recognized by American society because it affects a majority of young women as they grow into being their own person as young adults. (we'll just call is SD for Self-image Deficit) Taylor is now challenging young women to see the beauty in themselves and in their lives. She is keeping a journal and sharing once a week what kinds of project and theme she is working on. It is inspiring and comforting to me to see how she has changed and grown. And she is now passing that experience on. It's so cool.

Here is her project for this month at You are Beautifully and Wonderfully Made. It is a recreation of the good memories in her life as a road she's traveled. If you click on the picture on her sight, you can see it better. Great job Taylor!

August 4, 2011

I'm feeling the birthday love

The President and I turned 50 today.

I don't know how he feels about it, but so far it's been okay for me. ;) For some reason though, when you turn another decade older, people think it's alright to broadcast it for you and embarrass the heck out of you. But I do love how the birthday turns into a birthweek celebration when everyone knows it's your big birthday.

Friends and family have taken me to lunch and gone shopping with me this week. Nice, bright yellow mums are sitting on my dining room table from my sweet husband. Last week my family all got together and celebrated my birthday as well as my sister Jodi's birthday and my brother being home for a visit.

Last night at small group my friend Edith made me a wonderful cake with pineapple and cream cheese and whipped cream. It looked great....well, except for the huge number 50 in the middle. I told her she was mean, but she just laughed. My small group blessed me so much last night with a huge houseplant, a card signed by all of them and some news of a new baby on the way for one of them. (I will let you wonder, but thankfully it is not me!) They really blew me away when they gathered around me and prayed blessings over me and thanked God for me. I don't even have words for that.

Then this morning and put on my birthday suit and noticed it needs starch or something. Two of my sisters called to scream "Happy birthday!" to me before they fly out to Ireland. I'm glad people are enjoying my birthday to the fullest.

I check my email to find 70+ birthday messages from Facebook friends. It made me cry. I really appreciate Facebook for more closely connecting me with friends, past and present. I like the birthday greetings on Facebook, but there is a reason I did not include my birthyear, Mom! Thanks for outing me. >:( ;)

Later today all of my four daughters and my husband will gather with me and grill steaks, play games and there may be guitar playing/singing if I'm lucky.

Feeling appreciated and loved is a great blessing. And today I am really, really blessed.

Thank you!

July 27, 2011

I'd rather have salsa

I planted a garden this summer.

There hasn't been a vegetable garden for me to tend in years. Our last home had no space in the yard and the home before that was in a more harsh climate. And I am not an attentive enough gardener to keep up with constant moisture zapping wind and frost coming at random times even in June. So really I have not gardened much in about 15 years.

So this year I began slowly. Just 3 tomato plants, a zucchini, an eggplant (do you say eggplant plant or just eggplant?) and a bunch of herbs. And I started with store bought plants because seeds take way too much tending and patience for fruit to bear. I should have gotten them in the ground in March but I am not on the ball much of the time so they went into the ground in late April.

By mid May, I had tomatoes and by late June, I had tomatoes lining the window sills of our house and piled into bowls on the kitchen table. Salsa was made and brushetta, until people would eat no more and stores ran out of tortilla chips for the high demand. Then they were randomly used for slicing into sandwiches or on top of tacos and finally they just sat there making me feel guilty and overwhelmed. Well....I am ashamed to say that soon I began dumping the bowls of mushy red balls into the trash when no one was looking. I began leaving bowls of little yellow cherry tomatoes at people's houses when they were out of town.

After the 118 degree heat and a few weeks of over 110, the huge, overgrown, ambitious bushes of tomatoes began to wilt, turn brown, lose fruit before it was ready and dry up from lack of water. Yeah, who wants to go water tomatoes in 110 degree heat? Not me. Besides, they begin to taste...weird.... when it's that hot.

Last week my husband pulled up the plants for me. My heart secretly more tomatoes!

While I was quietly w00ting in my heart about no tomatoes to tend this morning, God (harshly, I thought) reminded me that we have a way more important harvest to tend to. As I finished writing a heart-felt article for our state denominational magazine about our recent boatload of people coming to Christ through the church's prayerful preparation, going out to sow the seed and then seeing the harvest come pouring in, the work is not done. Who wants piles of rotten, mushy harvest?

We need to get out there and make the salsa now! What is a harvest for anyway?

July 5, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Before and After

Summer style.

More Wordless Wednesday posts are up at 5 Minutes for Mom and Wordless Wednesday Page.

Youth Camp this week!

I said goodbye to my husband and youngest daughter last night as they boarded a huge tour bus for youth camp. They have a week of extreme adventures at Rock and Water Christian Adventure Camp. Fun, fun.... but there were a lot of nervous moms saying goodbye to their young teens last night.  We are praying for a good (and safe!) week for them all as they play, worship and grow spiritually.

This is Cera, Samantha and Maggie ready to get on the bus! (thank you Tracy for the picture!)

June 30, 2011

Ministry of the small

Twenty three years ago, while church planting in New Jersey, we started a home Bible study that later grew into a church. Nineteen years ago when Charles was a youth pastor in a larger New Jersey church, we joined a home 'cell group'. Seven years ago, we began small groups in our church in northern Arizona. In each of these settings, regular church members and some visitors started meeting together each week in homes to fellowship, study together, pray for each other and minister to each other. I can still remember each person who was in each group...their names, but also their stories and their journey. The small group atmosphere with its trust and comfort brings it out of you and draws you together. Each group I've been a part of has bonded in a deep way.

Two weeks ago our church here began small groups on Wednesday nights.

Small group tonight was the perfect combination of breaking bread together, sweet time of sharing and  drawing in some new people who have not been coming long.  I can see that the fellowship and small group dynamic is already at work. I could almost cry with joy and anticipation that this bonding and feeling of community could be starting here in this urban, spread out church, full of busy busy people. God bless us....every one.....with the true and deeper fellowship that brings real ministering and love in The Church.

If you are not in a small group at your church.....join one! If your church doesn't have small groups, start one.

Wordless Wednesday-Summer vacation



Click here or more Wordless Wednesday entries.

June 6, 2011

Africa and Phoenix need the Lord

This morning we sent our missionaries back to Mozambique, Africa, something we are doing a lot in the past few years. Jim and Susan Oetter and Jessica Riemersma are IMB missionaries, but they are really ours. They are all three members of our church and have gone to spend a few years of their lives in Africa (Jim and Susan for 3 years, Jessica for 2), helping our full time missionary, another man, John Dina (who grew up in our church) and his wife, Wanne (a native of Brazil).

Let me back up. John and Wanne went to Mozambique, Africa over 15 years ago as full time missionaries. Their main job is raising up indigenous pastors in the various villages and groups of people around Quelimane, Mozambique. He has been talking to our church and others about coming to do mission trips to help him get some special things started for years. And finally a few years ago, my husband answered the call to help. He and 5 other men from our church went to see the work and to lead services in various places there. The next year a group of our women went to lead a women's conference. And finally a group of our youth and college aged members went to lead True Love Waits meetings and abstinence education classes. (which is nearly unheard of in Mozambique, where marriage is not the traditional way, and where AIDS is rampant)

Part of this last group were two young people who went to serve in Africa again. Jessica Riemersma has served as a semester missionary in Niger and is now in the middle of a two year term to Mozambique, where she and a partner are working with young women from the universities there....young women training to be nurses or teachers in their villages.

The other was Jeremiah Johnson, who went to Mozambique in January of 2010 and was killed in a motorcycle accident there in April 2010. His death threw not only our church and his family into deep grief but also the people he had ministered to in Mozambique. The posts I wrote about his work there are here. Compelled to go to the grieving Dina family and also to see the places where their son ministered, David and Diana Johnson, as well as my husband Charles and I, went to Mozambique in July 2010. The stories of our trip as well as the amazing influence Jeremiah had in his brief time there are also on that link.

This past June 2011 Charles and David went back again to teach seminary classes to the group of pastors John is helping to get better trained. They had 28 men, who for the first time in their lives heard the stories of the Old Testament and further training in pastoral care and personal growth as leaders in their churches. They each received a full study Bible in Portuguese and part of their training was in how to use the study Bibles for their own study. Up until this time, they mainly had been trained in the New Testament. Some of the pastors there had come to know Christ after Jeremiah had gone to their villages.

It all comes around. God works all things for good. He's got a purpose in life and we are blessed to be in on a little of it.

As we sent them off this morning, we had to hurry back to our church, where a group of people waited for my husband, Charles. We are having a special week of evangelism and outreach events in the neighborhoods of Phoenix. The Southern Baptist Convention is having their annual meeting in Phoenix this year. And wherever they meet each year, they also plan a lot of evangelistic events to help that host city reach out to their communities.

We've been busy prayer walking and asking God to bless our neighbors with open hearts and minds to the gospel as it is presented to them and that He would draw people in to fellowship in churches and build His Kingdom up in our area. We want to reach them and this is a huge week. Please pray for Phoenix. There are events happening all over this metro area. SBC members from all over the United States are coming to help in our hot, hot city. That alone makes it hard, but the real hardness is the human heart. That is why we're asking God to make people open, cause them to be thinking on spiritual matters, so that when people come to their door or meet them on the street or in a restaurant or at a block party, that they would already be searching. And that they will make a response to follow Christ.

The group is resting and some have seminary classes this afternoon, but already this morning God has opened the doors to two apartment complexes, where they got permission to knock on doors. And 2 people in those apartments have decided to follow Christ. They will go out again this evening for a few hours, as they will do each day this week.

On the way home from the church at lunch, Charles 'just so happened' along our next door neighbors, who were walking home from the store in the heat and he offered them a ride home. We've been praying for them and there they were, with an opportunity to serve them and get to know them better. He invited them to our block party this Saturday and she said she would bring her daughter.

Prayer opens the doors! Keep praying for our community and for God's love to draw them to Him.

God loves Mozambique and when our church members obeyed the call to go there, He blessed it.

God loves Phoenix too. Our members are jumping in there, answering the call and God's already blessing it.

Come Lord Jesus, bless this land....

May 20, 2011

Scotch Cake

I spent all day trying to bake what some people call a Texas sheet cake. In my family I grew up calling it a Scotch Cake...not sure if it's because the great-grandma who called it that was Scottish or because it had scotch in it. (the recipe doesn't call for it but someone may have changed it)

Anyway, I needed to make a cake for a funeral dinner and wanted to make something nice that fed a lot of people. I started making it before lunch and realized I had no cocoa powder. A couple hours later (after picking up Maggie from school, taking a boy home and then picking up and waiting on the Emma to finish cleaning my sister's house..oh, and going to the grocery store) I continue making it. But before adding the wet to the dry ingredients I decided I'd better double it. It is a labor intensive recipe, boiling the butter and cocoa, hour later I am just putting it in the pan.

A mountain of dishes and making the frosting and putting that ended up taking HOURS to make it. It's yummy though. With the double recipe it made half a sheet cake and a small pan for us at home. I took the half sheet pan to the church for the funeral meal. The cm whose dad died ended up raving about the cake and wanted to take every scrap of it home.

So it was worth it in the end.

The end.

Here is the exact recipe I used (although I made it without nuts today)....Pioneer Woman has gotten a hold of it somehow. Texas Sheet Scotch Cake

May 18, 2011

You can be free indeed...

Saturday night my husband had a preaching gig at a downtown mission. We used to do this regularly in seminary in the mid 80's...he or some other seminary student would preach to a bunch of drunk guys and then we would hang around and talk to people and go home feeling a bit drained but good about ourselves.

This was a little different though.

It is a rescue mission, but it's not the usually sort of drop in after a long day of binge drinking sort of place. It's a live in discipleship place where men are recovering from alcohol or drug addiction, lives of crime and homelessness and they are finding Life. They come in as a mess (aren't we all?) and after detoxing, they are immediately required to be a part of the Bible study programs, Scripture memory, and community service. Every day they are kept busy doing good things. They spend so much time together and have come from the same desperate backgrounds that they bond very tightly. They go through so much healing and life learning together that they Love each other deeply.

All of this was so obvious as we went in to the worship service. The rough looking exteriors were softened by God's love pouring through the more seasoned men who have been in the program for a while. The new ones who were still in the detox phase or maybe had just arrived 'fresh' from the back alleys sat alone and held back while the regulars put an arm around them, went to sit beside them or motioned for them to come sit with them. Everyone was welcome, loved and respected.

Pastor Jack, who came to the mission as one of these men needing help years ago, told us that so many of the men go back to the streets after a while. He doesn't pressure them. He tells them that they are welcome to come back when they decide they are done with it. They will be welcomed back in.

Everything that happened was a whole blog post in itself. There was a dog roaming freely around, getting pats and hugs from the men who were themselves desperate to be loved and desperate to have someone, even a little dog, to show love to.

There was a recognition part of the service for men who had completed 4 months in the program and one for a man who had completed 8 months. They each spoke words of thanks, mostly to God, but also to the men who had walked alongside them through the process. One of them read a paper that was full of words. It was a page full of Bible verses he'd clung to during his time there. All different places in the Bible, but strung together to show what he'd learned.... rod and my staff will lead you and comfort were called to greatness....I will give back what was taken...I will restore honor to you....

Those are just a few I jotted down, but the words of strength went on for a good 3 or 4 minutes.

Then Pastor Jack showed the congregation an award the city had given to the mission. It was in recognition of all the community service those men had done. They go out into the neighborhoods they took from and used to destroy and they clean them up and give back. They take the men back to try to help restore what they took. How cool would that be if we all practiced that?

The worship band was made up of various men, all but one had been through the program, who were professional musicians before ending up in lives of addiction. So it was some good music. My ears had that hissing sound in them for a while after it was over because it was loud, but we loved it. As the band played, sang and led the people in worship to Audio Adreneline, Switchfoot and Skillet songs of worship, the people danced, sang, smiled huge smiles, and tears ran freely. Beautiful, sincere, unencumbered and free worship.

Charles and I both said they need to come do a service for our church sometime. It would not be the same because people who don't have problems are not as free.

Think about that....I am lately...

Of course we all have problems and sin issues....we just hide them so well (even though we're full of it) and pretend it's not there so well (even though it's obvious), that we are not as free.

Contradictory... because Jesus came to make us free (indeed....remember?). But in order to be free, you've got to be real, you have to be vulnerable and humbled. There has to be Truth. And did I mention the name of the mission?

It's Set Free.

Jesus said, "I tell you most solemnly that anyone who chooses a life of sin is trapped in a dead-end life and is, in fact, a slave. A slave is a transient, who can't come and go at will. The Son, though, has an established position, the run of the house. So if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through. John 8:34-36 (The Message)

May 2, 2011

Point the direction of Albuquerque...

Left Phoenix about 1:15pm.

Places along the road we've traveled so many times zip by as we sit in silence for a while. The red rock ridge of Sedona looked like it was freshly painted and the San Francisco Peaks rose up like Kilimanjaro behind it. Lovely day for driving.

The lowering sun in the west made the rock formations along the border at Window Rock and Gallup look really dramatic as we talk of current events. The world events that are shaking up the world are coinciding with shaking personal lives of so many people we know! What is the deal? We listened on Klove radio to people discussing an appropriate (or honest?) reaction to Osama Bin Laden's death. Yeah, it feels conflicting, weirdly relieving as well as sad beyond all reason.

Then later we listened to NPR reporting on lives affected by the tornadoes in Alabama. Nearly 400 people have been found dead and about that many are still missing and presumed dead. A woman was being interviewed by an NPR reporter. The reporter (deadpan voice, as is NPR's style) said the woman, "like many of the people here in the Bible Belt of the South" credited God as saving her life through the storm. As the woman looked through the ruble of what used to be her apartment for any kind of proof of residency so that she could apply for aid, the noticeable smell of death was in the air, as many people from her apartments have not been recovered yet and are there beneath the ruble still. (I cannot imagine this kind of horror) Then she found a piece of paper, a letter from her grandchild's teacher and there was her name and address on the envelope. "Thank you, Lord!" she said. She said it like the Lord was standing there with them. And He is, thankfully. The NPR reporter just closed with that woman's jubilant exclamation of thanks and "this is yada yada, reporting from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, for NPR".

In just the same way, as we see some of our friends and church members going through really tough times, there is always some ray of hope a message or gift from God that comes up in their lives, like a gleaming white envelope among that woman's collapsed home, and they give thanks in the middle of their storm too. Sometimes you just have to grab hold of the Hope among the ruble, and the stench of wrecked lives, and give credit to the One who is the revealer of Hope.

We have arrived in Albuquerque now (someone is already rumbling and poofing beside me) and tomorrow we'll head to Oklahoma City to visit with family before driving down to Plainview to fetch our college girl, who we've missed dearly, and bring her back home with us. In a month Hannah will move home too and we will all live together under the same roof again for the first time in almost 6 years.....for the summer at least. And there will be great rejoicing under that roof by some proud parents, who I know...of. ;)

April 22, 2011

Distractingly Perfect morning

While trying to read my Bible on the back porch today, I was driven away by the huge, black, jumbo jet bumble bee that lives in the hollow tree by my wicker chair. My Bible literally became my shield and then my sword. God can be so funny with the word pictures sometimes.

It is just one bee that hovers around that tree. I am they live alone? Are there more bees in there? It was warm out there this morning and the sun was shining right on that tree. It seemed like he was not in a good frame of mind, so I came in. I gave up easily and retreated. Will he remember this tomorrow and buzz me again, knowing how easily I am driven away by distraction and fear? Insert life application lesson here.....and it's so true for me.

Settling back on the couch inside, away from anything unexpected, I open my computer to read the first chapter of Colossians in safer territory. But before I read, I notice my dog looking at me.

Ummm, my dog is holding a grudge against me. Dogs do that. I won't let her get up on my new couches in the living room. Yesterday we were in there all day setting everything up, reloading shelves and hanging pictures. Every time I sat on the couch she would jump up with me. At first I would pet her, then it would instantly dawn on me that this was my new beige couch and I would push her down and call her bad. She wasn't getting the idea, so I gave her a small swat, which was the final straw for her. Confused, she just sat on the floor giving me "sidelong glances that were vague but somehow threatening". She is part French poodle after all. (Don't worry if you don't understand that last kids will. Google for explanation....this post is already A.D.D. enough.)

So here I am on the couch, and she is over on the floor glancing at me with a grudge in her heart. So distracting....I can't stand it when people are mad at me. (especially when the person is my dog)

Focus now, I can do this, I finally got to reading Colossians 1. It is perfect Truth for Good Friday. (What else would I expect from God's Word?)

For God in all his fullness
was pleased to live in Christ,
and through him God reconciled
everything to himself.

He made peace with everything
in heaven and on earth
by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

Colossians 1:19-20

Earlier this morning as I drove Maggie to school, the morning radio show host was talking about the famous sermon, "It's Friday, but Sunday's comin'" by Tony Campolo, since today is Good Friday. They were comparing, as we humans so inadequately do, Jesus' suffering on Friday and resurrection on Sunday to our suffering in life and how some Day Jesus is coming back to end all suffering.

Our lives do include suffering here on earth. I've heard of so much suffering lately in people's much.

...but Sunday's coming. Jesus is coming....and it's not so far away.

Don't let yourself be distracted. Latch on to perfect Truth and God's peace today as you remember. I am trying to also. I need to go snuggle my dog now.

April 14, 2011

Funny Honey

My husband is so funny...and it's usually my job to point it out.

1. We were outside today, sitting peacefully on the back porch, when a gigantic black bumble bee came buzzing by me. (I call them jumbo jets)

I screamed "BEE!!!!" (I think I was flapping my arms and legs at the same time too)

He just looked at me and asked "What???"

I said "It's a BEE!" and he said, "Oh, I thought you were calling me." Then he just shook his head like he was relieved that he didn't have to call the paddy wagon.

I do call him B, but I never shriek it at the top of my lungs while I'm sitting right beside him. I've been laughing over it all day.

2. I checked Facebook this morning and on his profile page, it said he had 666 friends. So I posted a comment that he should notice that and add another person to his list. He wrote back that he actually needed 111 more friends.

3. I have been carefully saving up money to buy a new couch, socking away money little by little in a certain hiding place. Lately he has taken to looking at guitars on ebay, so he suggested that instead of a couch, he could get a new guitar. He was teasing me but he has a certain look in his eye....

...and I changed my hiding place. :\

April 11, 2011

Thanksgiving Practice

Some dear sisters and I were challenged this week to make Mondays thankful.

We are taking Mondays just to thank God for what He is doing...not asking Him for anything, but thanking Him for working, for blessing, for leading in the lives of those we are praying for. For me, it is helping to remind me that He IS working because we are praying for people.

The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. James 5:16b

Cool huh? (all of James 5, read it!)

Practicing this all day (trying to remember to practice it) really encouraged my heart and inspired such Hope as I thanked God for what He was doing in people's lives and for me. I never ran out of things to thank Him for either.

April 4, 2011

Ministry of silence

Don't you agree that ministry happens very effectively outside the church walls as well as within?

Like an evening spent on a back patio by fire-light....mouth shut, ears open, sympathy and love almost tangible. The darkness like a cloak of privacy and assured trust. A dear friend who has an ongoing, long term issue pouring out her heart. Sometimes we have heard it all before, but a person needs to process again, revisit thoughts, uninterrupted, no advice offered.

Just prayer and no other words. Just understanding.

It's a blessing and a huge ministry. This is why tens of thousands of women go to professional counselors every year. (and I am notnotnot saying they shouldn't) Could we just do that more for each other? We could save our dear friends thousands of dollars and help them to trust the body of Christ again if we could do this and then keep that cloak of privacy around that sacred trust.

...and for no reason break it.

March 31, 2011

Fragrant Life

While sitting out on my back patio today, the fragrance of orange blossoms kept visiting my nose. I love that makes me close my eyes and breath in deeply. It was like God was illustrating the passage I was reading right then,

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2

I love it when that happens! I want to be an orange blossom...

For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. 2 Corinthians 2:15-16

March 25, 2011

Anxiety and contentment

I relaxed today. The tension went out of my jaw and I didn't look around with a panicky feeling (like someone is coming up behind me) once!

Charles got home from his trip to Africa this morning. So for two weeks I've been on alert, on guard, watching my own back. I can't help the natural tendency but it does bother me a lot.

I have already admitted it to myself in the past, but I have to say it out loud and type it out there to you. I think I put more trust in my husband than I do in God sometimes.....especially with daily, practical security. My feeling of contentment in life leans more toward my tangible partner.

I did stay all by myself in the new place one night while he was away. A few nights ago Maggie was spending the night with a friend and Bethany could not come over (even though I kind of whined to her) because of work. As it turned out though, I was glad I did it. The ladies in my Bible study that evening prayed for me and I gave my anxiety about being alone to the Lord before heading back to bed. And then I had to trust.....forced myself not to think about any anxious thought and went about my routine. The next morning I felt like I'd had a break through spiritually.....a small one, but it was significant for me.

I guess feeling incomplete when your husband is away is alright. It's kind of natural. And I am glad he makes me feel more secure when he's here. But I know I can do it if he is not. It was a step of faith to not let the anxious thoughts develop because I have a very vivid imagination and my mind can invent some scary possibilities.

I just thought I'd share my little faith/trust building event because I know it is a common problem. Trust Him and then squelch the chatter of the anxious thoughts.

The verse I have always gone back to for setting my mind straight is Philippians 4:6-9. Here it is in The Message paraphrase. I like it!

6-7Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

8-9Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

March 24, 2011

Excuses and stuff

So I guess you can tell by my last entry why I have not been blogging lately.

My husband left for a 2 week trip to Africa on the 11th and my life was complete busyness until today, when I finally had time to relax and do some things around our new place. Maybe someone was praying that I'd be kept busy so that I wouldn't worry or that time wouldn't drag by while Charles was gone.

Uhhh, thanks....?

blahblahblah: I had my own kids coming and going from Texas and California, my brother and his daughter coming for a rare visit from Maryland and Georgia, a wedding to go to, events to cook for, meeting one of my daughters' boyfriend for the first time, along with running realtor errands and emptying out our former home. Oh yes, and the kitchen sink fiasco....and figuring out how to move our old refrigerator to the neighbor's, which they bought from us. (Special thanks to friend Larry who helped me with both of those!) And while we were moving the fridge over, the neighbor said people had been at our old house and looked like they were having a party there, which explained why the doors were all unlocked.

So....very little time to process here on the blog. And when I did have time and came here to my blog dashboard, I would just sit here and go "duuuuuuuuuuh".

Yay: Charles comes home tomorrow morning *sighs of relief all around*, I met 2 of my neighbors, who were outside chatting tonight when I pulled into the driveway, and, of course, the shower curtain dilemma is over. I would jump for joy if I weren't so tired.

Laying it down

I think I've finally decided on a shower curtain. I am such a dork.

I promise you I have looked at every shower curtain on the internet....or at least all of them on Overstock,, Linens and Things, Bed, Bath and Beyond,  Kohl's, Target, Walmart, Sears and Penney's internet sights. That is a lot. And I barely liked any of them! I finally went back to one that I liked and stood in Target looking at for an hour one day. It's a Shabby Chic brand from Target. The the jade green tile in the hall bathroom. An ugly medium tone milky jade. bleh. So I chose one that is white with some pink flowery design on it and has some green stems and leaves.

My life is so hard, I know but that is what my week has been.....endlessly analyzing shower curtains.

Two hours later: I picked out a different shower curtain.

My daughter Hannah influenced me. (I am easily influenced) pink flowers/french country look. Now it's this curtain with these wall decals. It should be cute and different. It is ordered from Amazon and should arrive by next Wednesday.

My search is over.... This is big! Now I can move on.

March 15, 2011

Catching up

I can't believe I haven't posted in almost a month! Sorry mom...;)

We got our big move done and I feel pretty settled into the home we will rent indefinitely. So far the girls all feel like it feels homier than our last house. I have to agree. It's more of a have a  garden, bake a loaf of bread, open the windows kind of home.

The main problem with living in an older (built in the early 50's I think) home is the maintenance. You never know when an emergency home repair will be needed. Saturday night I had the kitchen all cleaned and ready for company that was coming the next afternoon. I just had to get the carrots peeled and onions cut and ready to accompany the roast in the crockpot the next morning. I washed the peelings down the disposal and turned it on. Wow, that was a mistake.

Water and bits of carrots sprayed violently all over the cupboard under the sink. The pipe had come loose. So I mopped it up and put buckets under all leaks. Sunday morning our friend Larry said he would come over and fix it. Charles is gone on a mission trip, of course. I have used that disposal several times since living there and it waits until the husband is gone to explode.  Murphy's Law or something I guess.

It is all repaired and the pipes are tight and non leaking now. I already had 2 buckets under there for various drips that we thought we could wait on....sometimes we are not so wise.

I put in some flowers under the front window. Hopefully the neighborhood cats who have been using that area as a sand box will move on now if I keep it muddy enough. (any suggestions?)

Maggie and Emma even helped me put in 2 tomato plants and 5 different herbs in the backyard. I love a garden and didn't have space for it in the last house. For those of you in cold climates, yes, it's garden time's been in the 80's and even supposed to be up into the 90's this week before cooling off a little again. I even had to dig out my flip flops from my stored box of shoes.

Less than a week after we moved, we saw Charles off on a trip to Mozambique, Africa. He and David Johnson, seminary director for Phoenix extension of Golden Gate Seminary, are teaching pastor training classes there for the indigenous pastors the missionary, John Dina, has raised up. They are a great bunch of God appointed men who are serving the various villages and churches in towns there around Quelimane, Mozambique.

If you pray for them, pray that they will sleep at night. It's warm and muggy right now and it's hard to sleep, for strength and for God given understanding of Scripture foundations and pastoral care issues that the men are teaching. Thank you!

And if you want to read about our trip to Mozambique with David and his wife Diana last August it is here.

February 19, 2011

Past and present anticipation

There is a sad little corner in my house. Once upon a time it looked very festive and caused a tingle of excitement to come over my heart. Here it is, see if you agree:

I put up the set of little trees the day after Thanksgiving. Knowing that we wouldn't set up our big tree for 2 weeks, I did want some Christmas spirit around, so I set them up and carefully untangled the ornament hooks, little twinkle lights and hung the fun ornaments up. I faithfully plugged in the twinkle lights each morning and left them on all day, then unplugged the at night with a sigh. Sparkly, twinkly, shiny and sweet.....a hope of things to come.

It's all about the anticipation I've decided.

Once Christmas day has come and gone, the decorations, the lights and smells just do not thrill anymore. Around about November of 2011 we will break them out again and the anticipation will happens every year. But in February a little clump of trees only serves to annoy!

The anticipation of moving to another house is less than the thrill of Christmas, but it is still a bit exciting. The boxes and crates around those little trees are beginning to annoy also, but in two weeks the excitement of setting up house again will be overtaking me and I will bustle around making the next house a home. I do love that.

Today is a blustery day. I expect Pooh and Piglet to float by with the leaves and wind at any time. But it also stirs up anticipation in me that is hard to explain. Why does a day like this remind me of the Day when Jesus will return again? I do not know and can't possibly begin to analyze that...I have boxes to pack. But it does and it's giving me a thrill again today. Maybe it is that all of nature is rustling and dancing around in the wind....

  Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice!
      Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise!
 Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy!
      Let the trees of the forest rustle with praise
 before the Lord, for he is coming!
      He is coming to judge the earth.
   He will judge the world with justice,
      and the nations with his truth.

Psalm 96:11-13 NLT

February 15, 2011

The daily touch

Have you ever taken account of how many people your life interconnects with each day? I'm trying to count them up today....and it's amazing.

~My husband, morning chatter
~Daughter, quick hug and kiss before she left for school
~15 minutes with my mom as I took her to church.
~People at the church office as I manned the front office today--nothing more than a wave to 2, stuck tongue out at one (he started it), flirted with husband, small talk with another.
~Said hello to some ladies at the Bible study while I brought my mom in then I jetted off to the office.
~One of them pulled me aside (as she is always doing) and offered to prepare lunch for the people who help us move in 2 weeks.
~Chatted with a friend who is just getting out after major surgery as she popped into the office. Today was the first day she actually styled her hair (spikes...cute!) since it's started growing back in from chemo.
~Said thank you to a friend who came by with an unexpected gift. It was a very quick 'gift and run'. It blessed me.
~Sister on phone
~Dear friend, a new widow since December, on phone...plans to play racketball.
~A bed-ridden shut in on phone. Her back is very painful, please pray for RS.
~Man working on resume, just lost a good job because of the economy.
~A man from Liberia who is trying to make a living here now.
~Sent a text thanking someone (in Nebraska, not Texas) who said they were praying for me.
~Another friend who is a new widow since September. Nice to see her smiling, chattering, keeping busy.
~Theology of prayer discussion with husband over hot dogs and salad at Costco. ;)
~The man who rang up my things at Costco looked so familiar. I know him from my past...who is he? High School? College? I realized it was college as I wheeled my cart out. He didn't recognize me either so I didn't say anything. I remember his name now. But I had only given him a polite "thank you" in the store.
~An older woman who couldn't remember where she parked in the parking lot....she spotted her car just then and we laughed. I love encountering people who make me laugh.
~Waved and said hello to the neighbor who was raking up pine needles.
~Fussed at my dog for getting underfoot while carrying in heavy groceries. I forgave her quickly and we had some kisses.
~Sent a text to a very dear friend, who lives in another state, whose life is reeling with so many concerns and now she has to help plan her sister's funeral for Thursday.
~A 13 year old boy who rides home with us as we waited for my daughter to come out. We talked about Xbox and bowling.
~Chatted with daughter a bit in the car, we teased the boy and talked about Angry Birds, relatives, friends and why some girls are nice to boys but not to other girls (all in less than 10 minutes).
~Read messages from friends in far off places and wrote messages back to some ...people who I've connected with again from the past on Facebook and people I've chosen to connect with because of some similar interests on a forum. I breathed out a lot of prayers as I read along in each place. Dear people, all of them.
    It is amazing how many lives we touch in the course of one day.....and they all touch ours back.

    February 14, 2011

    Crazy Love

     This is real love—not that we loved God, 
    but that he loved us 
    and sent his Son as a sacrifice 
    to take away our sins. 
    Dear friends, since God loved us that much, 
    we surely ought to love each other.  
    No one has ever seen God. 
    But if we love each other, God lives in us, 
    and his love is brought to full expression in us.
     1 John 4:10-12 NLT

    "God's definition of what matters is pretty straightforward. 
    He measures our lives by how we love."
    Francis Chan (Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God

    Love someone...

    February 9, 2011

    Swirling restless stacks of ...ehn!

    My head is in a fog and heavy today with a cold coming on...or something coming on.

    The boxes piling up around me are making me moody and restless. I had a feeling it was too soon to start packing. Why did I listen to my practical husband and start? Then I realize it is not too soon.....the move is three weeks away.  He is right....he is practical and I am a procrastinator. I like for things to be done and over-with right away (especially things that are not fun). Why drag it out and do a little at a time? Restlessness is threatening to incapacitate me if I let it...I will shut down with just occasional bursts of getting things done. (maybe I should take a vacation until moving day)

    I need a checklist so that everything didn't swirl around in my brain so much and overwhelm me.  Organizing is not hard, but when it is never done, it grates. Too many details swirling around in my brain with no immediate resolution. (It could be a fever coming on too though, it's hard to tell.) We are just moving a couple of miles away, but we have to take everything with us and set up again. That is what I can on a check list. Details are much more manageable on paper than they are in my head I think.

    ehn, boxes.

    I must distract the brain.....

    So.....and here is my point, actually.... I read a few wonderful blogs today and thought I would pass along some wonderful reading.

    The photography and beautiful story telling here are making me smile today.

    I've heard of God reaching down this way a lot lately.  

    My good friend Kim is starting a brand new blog. God is stretching her lately and opening her eyes to things beyond her corner of the world. Go read about it at Neighbourhood Sprawl.

    God is wanting to tell you and show you great things, even when your head is swirling, even if it is just a plan to keep boxes from incapacitating you). Pay attention. (I am reminding myself, but if the shoe fits....)

    January 29, 2011

    An honor

    I was honored this week by a blogging friend at Chrysalis. She gave me a


    You can check out her stylish e-zine blog  here and make sure you check out her many articles and reviews....lots of interesting topics!!

    Here are the Rules
    First, thank and link back to the person who gave you this award
    • Second, share 7 things about yourself
    • Third, award 15 recently discovered great bloggers
    • Then, contact these bloggers and tell them they’ve won this award

    Seven Random Things about Me:
    1. I'm in the middle of a move to a different house, so I'm a crazy person (and I am sticking with that story even after the move).
    2. As my children are leaving the nest and flying off to discover the world and what God has for them, my husband and I are finding it very quiet around here.  It takes a lot of adjusting. And it makes our 13 year old a little restless being an only child after living in a house full of sisters and activity!
    3. I started volunteering to do receptionist type of work at our church two mornings a week.
    4. I love (and am quite good at) figuring out people's Myers-Briggs personality type. Oh and I'm an ESFP.
    5. I do love January in Phoenix, even though I miss a snowy climate and having a nice wood stove.
    6. I love Facebook and find it reminds me of living in a small town, the way that you can spread news so quickly, keep in touch so closely and stay in closer touch with friends on a daily basis.
    7. My love languages are acts of service and really good chocolate.

    Here are my honorees. Please feel free to follow these guidelines or not. =)

    Great blogs I read and want to pass on the Award to:
    1. Pioneer Woman Cooks is a great cooking blog. She makes each recipe step by step with lovely photos and hilarious commentary.
    2. Pocket Lint has been a long time favorite of mine. It's written by my wonderful friend Gillian about life with two special needs children.
    3. Tara's View of the World is written by my friend Tara about her life of raising three children, one with autism and being a minister's wife.
    4. KQ Cards, a photography blog by my friend Kathryn who has a great eye for photography!
    5. Penned in Orange is my wonderful collegiate friend Sara's blog. She writes poetry and is a great photographer also!
    6. Veritas, my husband's blog..... a more serious and thoughtful blog.
    7. Alive and Mortal is written by my friend Kim. It is an expressive arts blog for grieving people and a place for the grieving to share their journey.
    8. A Holy Experience is a beautiful blog experience with lovely photography, devotional, inspirational and poetic writing.
    9. Blackpurl's Knitpickings is not about knitting, but is a friend who knits, who also writes about life in Belize as a missionary.
    10. Walking to China is another friend who is living in China and a surprise to her, foster parenting a special needs baby there as well.
    11. Joann's Blog Adventure is written by another ministry wife friend of mine.....usually a very hilarious look at life in ministry and raising four children.
    12. Laundromat is my friend Michele's blog. She writes from a  very Canadian, very honest and very fun view of life married to a minister with two teenaged boys, one hound dog and has an interesting career as the director of a downtown cultural center for Native Canadians (because I forget the correct term). 
    13. Shasher's Life is an energetic blog for women by another Canadian friend.
    14. Empty Handed is written by another ministry wife who lives in Australia....wonderful photography and cheerful blog.
    15. Agape Life, which is my daughter Hannah's blog. She writes so well, but not often. Keep an eye on her though. She has great thoughts!

    Whew! That takes a long time to get all of that together, but I am excited to show you the blogs I've been reading lately. Hope you take some time and look at them. Save the links for when you have time to peruse and read good things.

    Thank you again to e-mom at Chrysalis for honoring my blog on her awards list.