Monday, December 31, 2007

Sometimes Life is Hard to Swallow

This week, I bought one of those cheap checkout-counter women's magazines, because it had cute hairstyles on the cover (I'm looking for a new 'do.) And inside I find this 3 day liver detox/fat flush "plan." Usually I think this stuff is garbage, but since I have eaten nothing but sugar for the last 38 days, I thought maybe, just maybe I would give it a shot. And Jennifer Garner/Affleck uses it. So it must be good because she's all gorgeous. I'll look like Jennifer Garner in 3 days. Watch and see - I will! We'll look like twins :-P

So, Day One consists of drinking only water and "Miracle Juice." Geez. Not MY name for it, I assure you. It's a mix of pretty normal sounding stuff mostly, like water, cranberry, orange and lemon juices, with ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon. Throw in an oddball herbal supplement that I couldn't find exactly and some "natural" sugar substitute, and now we're cookin'. It smelled pretty good, so I had high hopes. I took my first sip of 492 of this stuff (well, maybe just 400), and discovered that it tastes a bit like Russian tea. Cold russian tea. Yuk.

But, I've gone to the trouble of making this concoction, so I decide to press on. I'm driving to work, finishing my first cup, when I get to the bottom. What was swirling around in there was all the spices , etc. that did not dissolve. It looked pretty gritty and not at all appealing. I was tempted to dump out those last few gulps, but decided that those things were put in for a reason: presumably a benefit. So I closed my eyes, and swallowed the rest. And it wasn't so bad, as long as I didn't look.

And then this thought occurred to me. The things we encounter in life may be good for us, but may also be hard to swallow. We may think we need a promotion, but God says, "You're not ready." We may want more, but God says, "You need to be content with what you have." We may desire a relationship with someone, but God says, "That's not the one I chose for you." We may say, "I don't want to do that. It's too hard." And God says, "It's too hard for you alone, but not if you ask Me to help."

Sometimes God's answers to what we want are hard to swallow. But His answers are always best.

So, as the New Year arrives in a few short hours, I'll share my hope for 2008. Not just for me, but for you as well:

I pray that we learn to be grateful for the blessings God has given us. I pray that we learn contentment, wherever we are. I pray that not only will we rejoice when God's plan makes us happy, but that we all be able to close our eyes, and swallow God's portion when we don't really like what He's offering. Because even the gritty stuff is good for you...

Happy New Year!

But seriously, if you try the Miracle Juice, heat it up first: then it just might pass for russian tea :-) And I lost three pounds the first day :-D

Friday, December 28, 2007

Of Mice and Women

Isn’t it funny how one day can seem such a struggle to follow God, and other days it’s a breeze? How when you bless others, God often blesses you as well?

Peggy, a notoriously grumpy coworker of mine, had seen a knit toy mouse in a pattern book that I had, and she just fell in love. She made such a fuss over that picture in the book that I just had to make him for her, and so I did.

Yesterday I gave him to her. She was so excited! First she put that little guy next to her computer keyboard, and then she moved him to the shelf overlooking her workspace. Finally, she put him in the breast pocket of her lab coat! She positioned him just so, with his little paws and tail protruding, his tiny head peeking over the top. She made it a point to show him off everywhere she went.

She was obviously very pleased with her gift. That did my heart such good to see how happy that simple act made her.

So my friend Rhonda and I were having coffee and dessert last night, when Rhonda gave me her own gift at the beginning of the evening when she bought my coffee and torte. What a nice surprise! We discussed Peggy’s affinity for stamping and card-making, and how happy Rhonda was when she received a handmade Christmas card from her this year. We laughed about Peggy's reaction to her little mouse, and how she really isn't all that grumpy if you just pay her a little attention. She's a lonely widow with panic attacks, her daughter committed suicide, her son is "sowing his oats" after a divorce, and she is retiring from her lifelong laboratory career this spring. She's had a hard life, so I can understand where her miserable moods come from.

Most people tiptoe around her for fear of starting an argument. But I try to engage her. I don't know why. I've always gotten along with the more "difficult" personalities, and she is simply another one of them.

So what happened? This morning I found a hand-made “Thank You” card that Peggy had made for me herself. (I'd take a picture, but my husband has my camera at the other end of the state!) As I gushed over my beautiful card, I told her how much Rhonda had enjoyed the Christmas card she had given her this year. Again, Peggy was delighted, but this time by hearing how her card had impacted Rhonda. She said that it made her feel good to know that her efforts were appreciated.

Yes, Peggy. I know. It does feel good to know that you made a difference to someone. :-)

I know I'm often guilty of thinking that I have to be serving in a big, established ministry to be a servant of God. But the fact is, doing what you enjoy and sharing it with others in a way that shows them love and friendship is exactly what being a servant is all about

Take the time, and invest in someone's life. Learn their likes and dislikes. Listen to their funny stories and their heartbreaking ones, too. You'll be surprised at what kinds of things you can do easily for others, with no big ministry in sight, that make you a servant of Christ...

"God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another." 1 Peter 4:10 (NLT)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

My Blog is Experiencing Technical Difficulties...

I will try to repair my template tomorrow. I apologize for the weird appearance, but it won't cooperate right now :-(

The Leper at Christmas Dinner

Be Forewarned: This is a Long Post!

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9

This year, as I've mentioned before, I've felt kind of "Scrooge-y." I didn't want to shop, and I was so over all the hype. This year I really wanted to focus on the CHRIST part of Christmas, and not on all the other stuff people think it's about.

And I got to see Jesus this Christmas, right in my parents' house.

I'll just say it: we have more than one black sheep in our family. We don't have one skeleton, but a closet full of them. We aren't perfect. But thank God that we don't have to be, because He sacrificed His perfect Son for us!

And we forget that so easily. We forget to be good, to live as God asks us to because often that is hard, and uncomfortable. We shy away from the sinners, the troublemakers. It is even easier as Christians to forget that we are still sinners. We just happen to be forgiven ones.

I have a cousin who is one of those black sheep. For the past few years, he has spent Christmas with my family, because he doesn't have any other. His brother committed suicide after struggling with permanent paralysis from a motorcycle accident that they were both involved in. He discovered his alcoholic mother's body several days after she passed after climbing in her window when she wouldn't answer her locked door. He too, is an alcoholic, who lives in a camper by the river. His wife and daughter left him, and he has to work outdoors because his coworkers fear ignorantly that they can catch his hepatitis by being near him. He has spent time in prison, and sometimes goes by his brother's name to avoid being arrested on old warrants.

My cousin is a modern-day leper.

My mom invited him to join our Christmas dinner a few years ago, and he has invited himself in the years since. This, among other things, irritated her and others this year, but she was always gracious to him, serving him food and encouraging him to take more. I'm sure he is starving but he never takes much.

He reeks of liquor every time I see him. His face has aged much too quickly, but he still has the heart of a child, deep down. He calls me "ma'am" and minds his manners, and quietly watches all the festivities surrounding him. He is never intrusive, and goes almost unnoticed.

This year several aunts and uncles bought him clothes and necessities. The packages were not marked with his name, but they were under the tree, just like all the rest. He wasn't expecting them, I suppose, because his face lit up with surprise and delight when he was given three large bags, full of gifts.

My mom may have initially been annoyed at his presence, but she got over it. And she was able to be like Jesus to him. She reached out and showed him love. She was weary of hurrying at the last minute to include him, sending many of us scrambling to find gifts to give him. But still she made him feel welcome.

She touched the leper.

He was loaded down with leftovers, and driven home with much more than he came with. I hope he went back to his camper with that warm feeling of acceptance and love that we all seek. I pray that in that experience he sees hope, for a better way, a better life. I pray he recognizes that Jesus was there, right in our midst.

That feeling that I'm sure my cousin had that night? I want that. I want that every day. I want to remember every day that I disappoint God, that I am unworthy of any blessing, that I am still a sinner. Just like my cousin.

Then I want to remember that even though I am a dirty, smelly, disappointment in many ways, God doesn't grow tired of loving me. Of feeding me one more plate of food. Of clothing me, and placing a solid, warm roof over my head. I want to feel so blessed that my face lights up at the mere thought of it!

I am that blessed. So why is it so hard to remember?

Dear Lord, I am so unworthy of the blessings you shower down on me. Yet, You love me anyway. Help me to remember to reach out to others, to plant that seed that was once planted in me. Grow that seed Lord, so that others may see Your Glory through my obedience to You. Grow that seed in their hearts so that they may know You, too. God, let me reap the harvest of your blessings by strengthening me, not letting me grow weary, but instead letting me love someone like You would. And may You reap a harvest of souls, Lord, praising Your Holy name all the way...

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Real Christmas Story

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Luke 2:1-20

I pray this Christmas you will personally experience the Good News of Great Joy: Our Savior, who is Christ the Lord...

Saturday, December 22, 2007

I Almost Didn't Survive This One

This little pretty nearly sent me over the edge:

Thankfully, the Lord apparently liked this chemotherapy hat and let me finish it, correcting all my many mistakes pretty easily. I hope this fits some lovely bald head. It'd be a shame for all that frustration to be for nothing :-)

Thursday, December 20, 2007


I read this post recently, also titled "Day One," at Holy Experience about 21 days of no complaining. I thought, "Wow. I bet Jeff would like that for Christmas."

I read this post today about the manna jar and it made me think.

Also today, I got an email from my good friend Angie, reminding me of the "silver boxes" speech we heard at the Festival of Holidays this year. About your words only being used for encouraging and building up, like tiny silver gift boxes. She ran across it again while going a "30 Days of Encouraging your Husband" challenge.

All these posts and articles seem to have the same message for me.

Stop complaining.

Funny, I don't complain much to anyone but him. I'm afraid that he takes the brunt of my frustrations. And it's not fair, and it's taking a toll.

Our marriage isn't bad by any stretch of the imagination. But the hopeless romantic in me wants my husband to give me the "googly-eyes" look that he used to. To see his eyes light up and a smile on his face more often when he sees me. I've wished for a revival of sorts in our marriage, and this challenge came at just the right time. So, I won't ignore God's timing. He knows best.

So, I'm game. Let's go.

During this challenge, I cannot say anything bad about or to him.

I will undoubtedly require some prayer to get me through this. :-)

Today then, is Day One...

Prayer Request

I'd like to ask all you readers to please say a prayer for Dylan. He's a friend of my oldest son, and is very close to my ex-husband's family. He was badly burned recently and is now in a burn center for his injuries. He's 10 years old, and could most certainly use all of our prayers...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Merry Christmas,Wordless Wednesday Style

"The angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."
Luke 2:10-11

The Life that began in a scene similar to this, but much less glamorous, should truly leave us "wordless..."

Merry Christmas

Monday, December 17, 2007

Yes, it's been quiet around here.

Yes, the blog has been quiet. Here's why:

I was finishing this guy for my latest charity knit, the Mother Bear Project. I hope to return to actual writing in the next day or so. :-)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

He Did It!

(Parents of Little Ones: Sing to the Tune of "We Did It" from Dora the Explorer)

He led us to the land and we bought it right away.
Oh He did it! He did it! He did it! Yay!
He provided even more and we didn't have to pay.
Oh He did it! He did it! He did it! Yay!
Now there's money in the bank and there's only Him to thank!
Oh He did it! He did it! He did it! Yay!

Our land "swap" is finally over! Our church closed on our new property yesterday, after what seems an eternity! So we now own ?? acres, completely debt-free, and got a nice amount of money in the bank account, too.

Praise you Lord, for you are faithful. You led us through a time of patience, but as always You were the Provider of all we need. I pray now Lord that we will move ahead according to Your agenda and not our own. Equip us to do Your works, and bring glory to your Holy Name!! Amen!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wordless Wednesday

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Who Doesn't Love Free Stuff in December?

We interrupt this blog you bring you the latest news: 5 Minutes for Mom is having a giveaway for $200 to spend at True Jeans!

I've heard about these guys, but I'm too cheap to spend big bucks on jeans, although they are my favorite article of clothing! But if you're giving me $200 to spend, then get outta my way!

This is a great giveaway, and if you win it's either a great Christmas gift for someone, or even for yourself! Head on over and check it out...

NOTE: If you don't see any links, click on "5 Minutes for Mom" for the giveaway and click on "True Jeans" for the company web site. My Christmas layout does strange things to my links :-)

My pics won't upload today either. Sorry :-(

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Ahh, a nice relaxing weekend. Just the cure for brain fog.

This weekend has been a relaxing one. Thank goodness! I think the brain fog might finally be lifting a bit.

Yesterday, I stayed in my PJ's until 3pm. I finished knitting a little ornament for our lab Christmas tree:

and I finally embroidered this eyeglasses case that I made ages ago:

I think I want to put a liner in it, so I'm not putting it in my Etsy shop just yet.

Then my hubby and I went to a Christmas party thrown by my broker-in-charge Rhonda at Easy Realty. They're a fun group of people and we had a good time and a good meal. Nice.

Today, we (Jeff really) taught a small group at church with 14 people. Awesome! Then we designated ourselves as "Power Point" pray-ers for the service. Let me just say that I love to hear my husband pray. Definitely a gift!

After a soup and sandwich lunch, we all went bowling. We had a blast! We took a few pictures, but they may not make it here. Or anywhere. Ever. They are either blurry or shots of our various backsides :-) Not really what you want to see, I assure you.

Next up: Fresh baked chocolate chip cookies, and my favorite football team, the Indianapolis Colts as the Sunday night game. A win would be the perfect ending to a pretty perfect weekend.

Thank you, Lord, for slowing down the pace of my life just a bit so I can enjoy it...

Right On, Sister...

Click here for this post that is speakin' my language! (the link is not underlined) I have found myself with this mindset about Christmas this year, and frankly, I hope you do too...

Friday, December 7, 2007

A Friday Funny

My foggy brain even let me laugh out loud at this one. Have I ever mentioned that I love Beth Moore? And not just because she has a cool name :-)

Beth Moore's post

A Little Miscellaneous Post

OK. I just haven't had much time to blog lately. Or much else it seems! It probably wouldn't make much sense right now anyway. My brain seems to be shrink-wrapped these days: nothing getting out, nothing going in. I kinda feel like I'm in a void. I read my daily Bible stuff, and five minutes later I can't tell you what I just read. I only seem to be able to focus on what is right in front of me at any given moment, and even then not for long.

My brain has gone on strike with the writers, I guess. So please come back another day if I totally lose you and make no sense at all. :-)

I'm not stressed about Christmas. Really. I'm more indifferent. Not to Christmas. Just to the materialistic money-sucker it's been turned into by the world. In my opinion, Christmas would be better with NO presents :-) We'd just celebrate God's gift to us, and that would be that. I just don't want to shop this year. I have only bought like two presents, and we won't discuss how many I need to buy...

The cookie swap was fine. The pinwheels were good, even though they were a little soft when they warmed to room temperature. The wreaths were good, too. They were certainly the most discussed, but strangely the least eaten. Everyone I actually saw with one liked it, so go figure?! I came home with lots of cookies that I totally didn't need. So my family has decided to save me from all those empty calories, and they are eating some of them before I get to them and put myself into a sugar-induced coma...

I just finished a pair of mittens for charity. That's something good! They're small kids size, black wool for the Soaring Eagles Project. I can't decide if I should add a snowflake or something unisex on them or just let them be.

What do you think? The deadline to get them in is the 17th...

(PS: I hope to return to a normal, kinda-maybe-makes-sense-post soon!)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Great Cookie Swap Disaster

'Twas time for the cookie swap and all through the night
I mixed and I stirred making tasty delights.

Wax paper was spread on the counter with care
awaiting the yummy goodies that would soon be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds (though they wouldn't stay there)while visions of accolades danced in my head.

I was in the kitchen, Dad was out for the night
and my pinwheel layers weren't turning out right.

There in the bowl I had not dough, but batter.
I needed to call Mom to see what was the matter.

Away to the phone I flew like a flash
hoping she'sd know how to rescue this batch...

Mom had made this recipe at Christmas before. We've never been very close, so I thought this would be a bonding moment, as I looked to her to help me carry on a "tradition" of hers.

"Hey mom. I'm making this pinwheels you make at Christmas for a cookie swap, and I have a question."

"Those aren't cookies. They're candy."

"Whatever they are, I'm making them and they're too runny. It's supposed to be like dough."

"Why are you making those? They never turned out right. I don't make those."

"Yes you did, mom. I remember them, and I thought they were good."

"Well, I only made them once or twice and I never liked how they turned out. Why don't you make..."

blah, blah, blah...

blah, blah, blah...

She did eventually offer a bit of sage kitchen knowledge. I added a little flour, rolled them out just a bit to see what would happen, and put them in the fridge overnight.

They set up a little. Enough to spread the peanut butter on them anyway. They sat all night after rolling, so I cut them this afternoon. They "melt" as they warm up. If they don't stay refrigerated, I'm afraid they'll just be a gooey, sticky mess. (*Sigh*) I'm hoping for the best...(another long, sad *Sigh*)

So I also decided to make these Christmas wreath treats that my ex-husband's aunt made every year. Those could have been my ENTIRE Christmas meal, and it would have been fine. YUM!

I have never made them before, but basically they're are rice krispy treats with corn flakes instead. Add green food coloring...

...mold into wreaths (without turning yourself green or sticking to everything in the kitchen.) Add red dots and VOILA!!

Of course they stuck to the wax paper I made them on :-(

(One more *Sigh*.) Why did I sign up for this cookie swap again?

Wordless Wednesday

Eli just isn't too sure about his brothers sometimes :-)

Happy WW!

Monday, December 3, 2007


OK, here it is: the first issue of our church magazine, The Compass!! (Yours truly is the editor)

What a labor of love :-) I'm pretty proud, I must say. My writers and graphic designer ROCK!

Go to Pinnacle Church and click on "The Compass" in the center, or click the image below to go straight to it...


The Compass


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