Sunday, May 24, 2015

Happy birth-day Gracie!

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On May 21st we welcomed Grace Michelle into our family.  How we love her!

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

On my nightstand


I missed my ‘Nightstand’ post in April somehow but I’ve still been reading!  I don’t share these titles to show off about how much I read but because of how much I appreciate a good book recommendation.  Here are mine…

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Out on the Porch introduction by Reynolds Price
This is a lovely collection of black and white photos of southern porches and accompanying quotes that all make you want to add on to your home immediately.  I love this feature of so many homes in the south… with rocking chairs, porch swings and hanging ferns.  You’ll want a glass of sweet tea.



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Eve’s Daughters by Lynn Austin
The story of four generations of women who have to come to grips with the choices they have made – but also those of their mothers. 


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Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist
I’d never read anything by this author but I so enjoyed this book!  The subtitle is A Love Letter to Life Around the Table and is all about the celebrations, traditions and experiences we share at the table with friends and family.  Shauna is vulnerable and funny and I look forward to reading her other books.  And to trying a few of her recipes (in the book) too!


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Managing God’s Money by Randy Alcorn
The operative word here is God’s.  This is a great little book about what we do with what God has entrusted to us… whether it’s a lot or a little.  Biblical advice on giving, saving, tithing, spending.


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Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland
This story, which works backwards, is of a painting stolen in WWII and kept hidden for decades.  If you like historical fiction, you might enjoy this one.


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All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Two stories are told simultaneously – one of a blind girl in France during the Nazi occupation who has a valuable and dangerous jewel; the other of an orphaned German boy whose gift for building and repairing radios makes him a valuable asset in Hitler’s Youth movement.  As I hoped throughout the early parts of the book, their poignant stories ultimately converge.  The chapters are brief and the writing is very good.  Difficult subject matter.  

Monday, May 18, 2015

Links I liked (baby watch edition)

While we wait anxiously for granddaughter #2 to arrive, I’ve been cooking up a storm.  This is what I do.  For some unknown reason, I go into a cooking frenzy whenever the kids are coming home for a visit or, in this case, when we are going to visit them.  I’ve wanted Ray and Lisa to have some meals in the freezer so they don’t have to worry about what’s for dinner in the week or so following baby’s arrival.  After all, they will also be moving that same week (because it’s not stressful enough to have your second child).  Their lease is up so this is what it is.  I thought it might be nice to at least have some good food to heat up. 

I make all my old stand-bys (because I have ZERO creativity when it comes to meals).  Lasagne, flank steak, ribs, pasta salad, pumpkin bead, bran muffins… Hopefully it’s comfort food that makes them turn to each other and say ‘It’s good to know we can count on some absolutes in life when everything around us is changing.’  Or something like that. 

Anyway, here are a few links you might enjoy.  I’ll start off with a couple of Mother-related posts…

a toast for the mothers
This One’s for the Mothers
@chattingatthesky
A wonderful toast to so many mother roles you’ll relate to…
Here’s to you who fights off guilt, comparison, and shame.



Mother’s Day at least one more time for Mom
@cleveland.com
When we moved our mom into assisted living, my brother ordered business cards so her friends would have her new address. He added these lovely words:  Mother of 11 waiting on Heaven.  Mom is still waiting. And not so patiently.



21 Surprising Statistics That Reveal How Much Stuff We Actually Own
@becomingminimalist
The research is confirming our observation: we own too much stuff.
And it is robbing us of life.

Guilty.



Real Life is Better Than Spider-Man
@boomama.net
That little orange piece of paper has brought about some fresh conviction that 1) a little encouragement goes a long way and 2) OUR WORDS MATTER, especially when it comes to affirming each other’s God-given characteristics.



Why I Don’t Throw Kids Birthday Parties
@infarrantlycreative.net
Because I secretly dreaded doing birthday parties for my kids, I thought this was genius!
I spent a truckload of time and money – mostly time, to make it perfect.  Or so I thought.  I was stressed for a week planning and creating decorations. I came up with fun themed games, food and party favors.  And as my kids had post party let down they were always disappointed.  And to be honest, I was too.



No, American Christianity is not dead
@cnn.com
Very insightful article on the recent news about the state of Christianity in the U.S.
The majority of people who use the term Christian, do so in a way that is different from their church-going and faith-driven friends. Think about it—your religious uncle and irreligious neighbor could both call themselves Christians, but mean different things.



And just for fun… want to go with me?



Friday, May 15, 2015

Really? I won?

There are LOTS of giveaways in the blogosphere these days and if it doesn’t involve signing up for newsletters or other sharing of my info, I often enter.  Because of my rather cynical nature (I hate seeing that in print), I just assume I won’t be chosen to win.  In the case of the many WONDERFUL giveaways that The Pioneer Woman has on her blog, there are tens of thousands of entries so I guess it’s no surprise that I’ve never won the DSLR camera or the painted Kitchen-Aid mixer or the beautiful leather bag.

The only time I can remember winning anything is when I entered a watermelon seed-spitting contest at a local grocery store when I was about twenty years old.  I won a shopping cart full of summer BBQ groceries for spitting a seed across the parking lot further than anyone else!  I pretended not to notice that all the other contestants were 10 and under.

So last week when I received an email from Kristen at We are THAT family saying I had been randomly chosen to win a prize package, I was in shock!  A few days ago several boxes arrived on my doorstep and here is what was inside:

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A signed copy of Rhinestone Jesus, letterpress letters that spell the world “yes”, Micah 6:8 poster, a paper bead necklace created by the maternity home residents in Kenya, a bracelet from a Mercy House community outreach and Dayspring’s “Change the World” tablet decal.

How fun is that??  Except the dear person who packed my box from Dayspring accidentally spelled YES wrong:

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(They are sending an ‘S’)

Y’all know how much I love Kristen’s blog.  Her writing is funny and full of wisdom and raw honesty.  She was a classic ‘good girl’ who ended up in Africa on a Compassion trip where God began to nudge her out of her comfort zone and into a spiritual adventure that she shares with us on her blog and in her book.  She has stepped out with trembling knees in obedience to Christ and I love that about her.  She makes me want to do the same.  Her book, Rhinestone Jesus “is the story of one woman’s journey from comfortably living a safe, good-girl faith that didn’t cost much, to realizing that God was daring her to say YES to a bolder, more authentic, more dangerous way.”

Be SURE to read it – you will love it!

And check out her maternity home in Kenya:  Mercy House  The women there made the beautiful necklace and bracelet I got!

Like Kristen, I want to learn to say YES to God – I know His ways are always always worth it!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Links I Liked ~ Mother’s Day Edition

Sunday we will celebrate moms… and encounter all the love, joy, angst, sorrow and emotion that this day brings. 

These are the ones I have celebrated Mother’s Day with for the last 28 years!

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Here are a few posts to make you smile!

There’s the Duchess and Then There’s the Rest of Us
@motherhoodandmuffintops
Hilarious and very brave post comparing Kate’s pics to what is really real.


Mom Moments from Instagram
I’ll bet there are millions of Instagram ‘Mom Moments’ on all of our phones!



The Most Life-Changing Thing Every Mother Can Do For Herself This Mother's Day
@aholyexperience
The gift we ALL need most.  Especially me.


Samsung: How Bad Your Mom is at Texting




I Love Moms or Something




Have You Eaten?



Saturday, April 25, 2015

What if it’s an answer to prayer? {a repost}


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There are a lot of awfully hard things that happen in life – sickness, death of a loved one, natural disasters – that we won’t ever understand the reasons behind while we’re on earth. 

Then there are the tough circumstances that come because of our own or someone else’s selfishness, rebellion or stupidity.  While they’re not any easier, we can at least find a reason.  Admitting when it’s my own fault is another matter.

But I’ve been thinking about another reason for experiencing difficult stuff.  What if it’s because I asked God to help me get to know Him better?  To be less proud and more humble?  To look a lot more like Christ?  What if God allowed some painful things because He is using them to do exactly what I asked Him to do?

If that idea makes you cringe just a little, it does for me too.  I know that His way of getting something done in me is quite different than what I would choose… give me a minimum of discomfort, only minor pain or inconvenience and don’t touch those tender areas where I may get my feelings hurt or my pride wounded.

If I’m honest, I have been afraid to pray for God to shape me (He might ask me to go to Africa!).  But in the last few years, I’ve started to want some changes in me more than I want to stay comfortably messed up.  And that has only happened because I asked God to please change what I want – to give me His desires for me. 

A while ago I experienced a completely uncomfortable confrontation by someone.  My feelings were hurt.  My pride was wounded.  I wanted to defend myself and had a thought or two about a few things that bothered me about them

The thing is, they were right.  It was done in love.  And suddenly it occurred to me that God was answering a prayer I’d prayed in earnest:  Expose my pride and help me deal with it.  Become greater in me so I will become less.  Help me see my own sin and be quick to admit it.  Rule over my emotions so they don’t rule me.

I am so thankful that God is faithfully answering those prayers.  None of those things will happen without some pretty significant discomfort because my old flesh will fight to the death to be in control.  To the death!  That’s exactly what needs to happen.

It’s causing me to look at hard things a bit differently. 

Sometimes (not always) they are a gift – a loving answer to a hesitant, timid prayer for change. 
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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Sigh



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A year ago today we were headed to North Carolina for our 30th anniversary celebration.  I wrote about it here.  Sigh. 

We had my nieces over last week.  It’s so fun to see them growing up (they are 10 and 12) but I miss those little girls. 

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Sigh.  However, some things never change… like baking cookies!

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And making stuff…

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Our oldest just got back from a short vacation in Palm Springs, which is where our girls grew up.  On the way to the airport yesterday she drove past our old house and texted me the photo on the bottom below.

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I couldn’t find a straight shot of the house when we lived there but the top is how it looked for most of our 17 years there.  (I think I was trying to make it look as much like Oregon as I could and pretend I didn't live in the desert.)  I guess this landscaping makes sense with the drought conditions in California.  And solar panels on the roof are a wonderful addition.  But I could never have loved all the rock and lack of green.  Sigh.


Facetime and Skyping with my kids is second-best to in-person but I’m sure thankful for it!!  I miss this little one!

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Just think… next month we will have TWO little girls to kiss!!!!  Sigh.

For the last three years, my friend Patti and I have had the privilege of having a group of 20-something young women come to my house every other Wednesday night to get to know God better through His word. Sometimes we had dinner but always we talked, prayed and shared a lot of life together.  Our group has morphed and changed since that first meeting in January of 2012.  We’ve had mostly Christ-followers but not exclusively.  There were Catholics, New Agers, unchurched, homeschooled, married, single, living with boyfriends and PK’s.  I will confess that it has been the most challenging small group I’ve ever led, mostly because I struggled with their inconsistency (which says more about me than it does about them).  But it has also been the most rewarding as I’ve watched God work in their lives, despite, above and beyond my expectations.  I have learned that I don’t have very much to do with the work God is doing in them but I sure was blessed to a front row seat. 

Last Wednesday marked our last time together as life changes and life’s busy-ness made it obvious that our group was coming to an end.  Sigh.

Which reminds me of something I heard yesterday from Timothy Keller…

sighs to prayers

I loved this for many reasons but the biggest is because I am a sigh-er.  Not always out loud but often in my heart.  When I watch the news, I sigh.  When I’m frustrated, I sigh.  When I can’t figure out a solution to something, I sigh.  When another driver does something dumb, I sigh.  What if I took every one of those sigh-inducing circumstances, as well as things like I wrote about above, straight to my Father in prayer?  Keller warned that if we don’t, the Enemy will use them against us.

I know from experience that this is true… he creates worry, fear, cynicism and hopelessness in me when I don't do anything with them but sigh.  Why would I choose that?

Turn my sighs to prayers.  Help me do this, Lord!

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