Friday, September 28, 2012

that kind of trust (and a recipe)

The fingers of a newborn curled tight around the finger that caresses - that's the kind of grasp I desire when it comes to clinging to my God.

There is trust in the grasp of one freshly sent from heaven for a newborn cannot see clearly but only in part. And I see not clearly but in part.

And I listen for the voice who spoke me into being. I long to nestle into the arms of the One who knit me, to recognize the caresses, the scent, the sound of the One who formed me and never leaves my side. And to live in the grasp of heaven, swaddled in His love.

Five Minute FridayWant to see where five minutes of writing takes you? Take a peek at the Five Minute Friday community over at Lisa-Jo's.

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Monday, I'm joining with another community to write on one topic for 31 days. My topic: 31 Days of Deep Love Diving.

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Most Fridays I'll share recipes aimed at a healthier me, healthier you and a healthier world. First up:

 Why make your own oven fries when you could buy them? 
  • You know exactly what's going in them
  • You can customize them to your taste
  • They're quick and easy to make

Oven Fries
Yukon Gold potatoes (organic are best - potatoes are #12 on the Dirty Dozen list)
Spices (e.g. garlic/onion/chili powder, parsley, oregano, pepper)
Parchment paper
Veggie scrubber

1. Scrub them taters and remove any "eyes"
2. Cut into wedge or traditional fry shape
3. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper
4. Sprinkle with your favorite blend of spices
5. Pop in a 375 degree oven and bake until lightly golden on the outside (about 35-45 minutes)
6. Serve warm
Did you notice what was "missing"? 

Salt & oil. You don't need 'em. The spices add the flavors and the parchment paper prevents the fries from sticking.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

31 days of deep love diving

Yesterday I shared why I'm diving into love for October. Today I'll give you a peek at what this full immersion might look like.

I say might because I'm learning God has a way of breaking out of the neatly arranged boxes I try to place Him into. So with deference to the One Who really is the only One that knows the plans He has for me, here's what I'm planning for the 31 Days of Deep Love Diving:

  • Learning what it means to love God with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength
  • Learning what it means to love others as myself (this includes loved ones, the poor in spirit, my enemies and strangers)
  • Learning what it means to love myself without feeling guilty because if I don't love myself, then I'm not going to love others very well
  • Posting daily challenges for myself, and you, dear reader to stretch us into loving God and loving others deeply
  • Recipes on Fridays because food and love are somehow connected or Jesus wouldn't have asked us to remember Him that way on the eve before He died
  • Giveaways and printables with a love theme
  • Keeping things quiet on Sundays because I take God up on His offer to rest. I will post something but it will be simple.
  • Doing lighter posts on Saturdays too, perhaps involving printables or simple love-themed projects
And because this came to mind when I thought of this theme, here's the theme song for this month of Deep Love Diving: 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

plunging in

I've decided to take the plunge.

my mom snapped this on our family vacation :)

Monday I'm joining the 31 Days series I heard about at Emily's blog and write on one topic for the month of October.

One topic? Thirty-one days?!!!

That sounds just plain crazy. It's rare for me to post three days in a row much less thirty-one. And focusing on only one thing, well....this post briefly sums up my track record in that area.

So why join this challenge? Because I just can't help being drawn to it and its very overwhelmingness means I will need to look to God to keep me afloat. Perhaps it's even an answer to my prayer. And I've already brainstormed a topic in the 12 hours since deciding to plunge headfirst into the series...

Here's why I'm diving into love for October:
  • my dad is having heart surgery on October first and love is a matter of the heart -
  • it's a month filled with birthdays, including mine which I have love-hate relationship with
  • it's the month of my wedding anniversary and a family wedding and we are wedded to God in love
  • the theme for my MOPS group this year is "Plunge: love like your life depends on it"
  • I kinda think God's serious when He says love Him and love others as myself, so this is a personal challenge to learn what He means by these words
  • God has a lot to say about love which might help out immensely on the 31 days of consecutive writing thing

Would you like to dive too? If you blog, you can join the challenge itself or you can meet me here to immerse yourself with me in the waters of loving deeply for 31 days. And hopefully, beyond.

I'll do another post this week on my ideas and approach for 31 Days of Deep Love Diving. If you have any ideas or areas where you'd like to see yourself stretch and grow in this area of loving God and loving others, please leave a comment. Cause that also will help me come up with ideas for posts. ;)

one of our sponsor kids
@ loving others : One of the ways I hope to love other mothers as myself is to sponsor their children and provide opportunities for education, full bellies and extra clothes to wear in case of midnight messes. We sponsor children through World Vision. That's Diego on the left when he was about 2. He's the same age to the date as Reese. We're not the best sponsor parents especially when it comes to correspondence and praying for them, but we're trying to change that.  And you can find your own sponsor child by visiting here

Sharing with:

Monday, September 24, 2012

when love grows

(This post is brought to you by patience, the fourth fruit of the backspace button is not working on my laptop and I now realize how much I rely on this key. Seriously. Try typing anything without using your backspace button. Only hunting and pecking could be slower.)

When Friday embraced Saturday, Brie crept in our room. She whispered help, an accident caused by a back-to-school virus (I'm sure), needing a mother's attention. The kind of mess requiring a battle plan.

Forty minutes later we both were back in bed. 

Yet through the smelly mess of it all, I wondered at the calm attention I gave to the work and the lack of fatigue usually accompanying a midnight waking and my own body battling a cold virus. With each task I patiently labored, on my knees, with hands full and a heart full too - gratitude rising above these grimy circumstances.

I thanked Him for bleach, and rags and towels - we who have so much, there's enough left over to clean messes. I thanked Him for running water, hot running water, and washing machines, and mops and buckets and everything that makes these messes manageable.

Could this calm and peace and praise be God's way of revealing charted growth? His way of showing me that despite my feeling this, I am growing and He is growing all that is good within me.

I mark growth I can see; He marks the growth invisible.

I also did a lot of thinking about mothers though the ages and mothers now. The ones who don't have all these first world conveniences. I wondered how they manage messes requiring a battle plan. And what they do if their child's only clothes become soiled? Do they give their child the clothes off their own back? Would I? And am I doing what I can now to love other mothers as I love myself?

I hope so.

Gifts counted:
  • bleach
  • washing machines
  • rags that were old clothes
  • extra clothes to change into
  • abundant towels
  • mops
  • sleeping in after midnight wakings :)
  • making it through the rest of the night uninterrupted
  • thinking of others

one of our sponsor kids
@ loving others : One of the ways I hope to love other mothers as myself is to sponsor their children and provide opportunities for education, full bellies and extra clothes to wear in case of midnight messes. We sponsor children through World Vision. That's Diego on the left when he was about 2. He's the same age to the date as Reese. We're not the best sponsor parents especially when it comes to correspondence and praying for them, but we're trying to change that.  And you can find your own sponsor child by visiting here

Friday, September 21, 2012

wide deep love

How wide, how deep, how vast, how great is God's love. So big it's unfathomable.

Maybe that's why I have a hard time wrapping my head around it.

A few weeks ago I started reading Francis Chan's "Crazy Love." In the introduction or first chapter, he points the reader to a link on his crazylovebook site about the outrageous creation God designed. You can view the video here (it's super short).

When it finished I was left with these thoughts...why would God create something so vast? If we're the only living beings He created in this vastness, isn't that a waste of space?
And yet...
That's the absurdity of it all. If God created just us and little old me a part of this infinitesimal speck, then surely He must love us something crazy. Otherwise we'd feel very small. But somehow this wide deep love finds us.

Five Minute FridayFunny, I've wanted to write out my thoughts on seeing just how small we are in the galaxy of galaxy's and God managed to answer that prayer thought here at Five Minute Fridays. The above captures my 5-minutes of writing. I added the links and picture after.

Have you seen that video, or something similar, before? Does the crazy creativity of God astound you too? Did you know I started a link party for Thursdays which encourages us to share how God's creativity overflows into our own lives? If you have something you'd like to link up, please visit yesterday's post and share away.

photo credit
Making it Count: I want these posts to be filled with the worthy, the important, the significant. One of the ways I'll do this is by posting about a social justice issue. Up this week: tomatoes. Or rather, the people who pick them. Click here to find a super simple, super quick way you can help end modern day slavery in Florida's tomato fields.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Scipture pictures

It's been on my heart lately to have our home filled with Scripture and meaning. Monet and his artistic compadres (yes, I'm mixing my countries) are wonderful  but his works just don't means as much to me as these do:

 They are abstract creations which are displayed in our dining room.

And it's hard to beat hand-drawn masterpieces done by your very own talented sister (you can commission her to do one of your family).
Even the best artistic photos can't compete with photographs taken by yourself or a family member of people and place you know and love.

So I took some time to repurpose some picture frames and fill them with meaning. Mixing in Scripture was a priority and I came up with these cards to mix into the arrangements (I used the NIV version of the Bible (except I used "returning" instead of "repentance" for the Isaiah Scripture) and I got the images here.):

And here's how they look on our walls:

How have you mixed in meaning within your home? What is your favorite piece?
photo credit
Making it Count: I want these posts to be filled with the worthy, the important, the significant. One of the ways I'll do this is by posting about a social justice issue. Up this week: tomatoes. Or rather, the people who pick them. Click here to find a super simple, super quick way you can help end modern day slavery in Florida's tomato fields.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

the other Bible study tool

Remember the game Balderdash? The one where you are given a word and you have to guess its definition among the pile of silly definitions other players invent. The one that has you learn the meaning of words totally useful in every day conversation.

Like jubate. It means covered in long hairs. So the next time you are having a conversation about The Addams Family you can use the word "jubate" for Cousin It. You can thank me later for this essential addition to your vocabulary.

So is Balderdash the other Bible study tool?

Not exactly (that would be balderdash). But the book that provides the definitions to words obscure and common is. The dictionary is number 10 on my list of life-changing books.

photo credit
It helped me see that because of the work Jesus did in me, I no longer need to characterize myself as a selfish person. However, I do need to watch out for any niggardly tendencies which cling unwantedly. (BTW, niggardly is a horrible sounding word. I first heard it from my Grandpa and thought he was using a racist term. He wasn't and it isn't, but check out its origins for yourself)

Then God helped gave me a special word to overcome my belief that I displease Him: delight. And while studying Philippians, searching out the definitions to "selfish ambition" led me to a new aspiration: to be earnest. Yesterday's post had me hunting up forbearance, a lovely, majestic-sounding cousin to patience.

For a long time I applied the label rambunctious to our children's very active behavior (the kind which evokes a eyebrows raised, eyes wide and mouth opened in a silent, "Oh. My!"). But then I actually looked the word up and I didn't like its negative connotations. These were not fitting for ones found in Christ! So I hunted up a new way to describe the times our children give full abandon to their joy: exuberant. Much better.

Then there's understanding what God asks us to stop and a trap easy to fall into...gossip. I fall in regularly. Did you know there's a verse about gossip which appears twice in Proverbs word for word? It's here and here. At first, I thought it was a mistake. Surely God didn't put the exact same thing only 10 chapters apart in the same book within the Bible?! But He did. So I guess He really wanted to get His point across.

And, finally, a word within gossip's definition, idle, got me thinking about how I spend my words here and elsewhere. Because if I'm spinning sentences of no real worth, importance or significance, then how could I possibly be fulfilling any of this?

It's why us lovers of Christ must change how we think, how we speak and how we converse with others. It's why the dictionary is critical to understanding God's Word. It's one of the ways we dig deep to discover His heart.

Will you dig with me? What are some words stick in your head or pop out at you? Look them up. It may be God speaking to you in a new way.

photo credit
Making it Count: I want these posts to be filled with the worthy, the important, the significant. One of the ways I'll do this is by posting about a social justice issue. Up this week: tomatoes. Or rather, the people who pick them. Click here to find a super simple, super quick way you can help end modern day slavery in Florida's tomato fields.

Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings
10 words for Top 10 {Tuesday}: jubate, selfish, niggardly, delight, earnest, forbearance, rambunctious, exuberant, gossip, idle.

Also sharing with:

Monday, September 17, 2012

love is patient and I am...

Trying to be. I was going to say "not" but that isn't exactly true, it just feels that way sometimes. Most of the time.

So when I read this, it stuck with me.

How often through my day do I reach for the smack down card. That one look, word, consequence to silence the whining, complaining, arguing, woe-is-me-attutitudes from my four wee arrows which grate, and rub and bump hard against my spirit and perhaps are smoothing down my still-rough edges?

A friend once told me she was cautioned against praying for patience. Because God loves to answer that prayer, this first in the list of love, this fruit of the Spirit. And He often does it through cross-bearing circumstances.

The kind you usually ask Him to change. Or take away.

The kind I experienced last week.

A son who demands my attention because he is struggling to believe he is a lovable boy. A lie the enemy suggested to his 18-month-old self when we brought his brother home from the hospital. And most of the time I feel helpless in how to help him. And often I'm just plain annoyed that he doesn't believe we love him. But love takes time and time-bound me with three other small souls, a house and a husband to tend feels those sands slip away all too quickly.

And another son who reminds me of blind Bart. One who unabashedly, sometimes rudely and inappropriately demands to be noticed by smashing his brothers' Lego creations or pulling books off shelves or leaves out of books. Or just plain yelling. He's three. Grace and wisdom and...patience are needed. But sometimes they are slow in coming.

And even though I heard the warning not to pray for it, I just can't help myself. I have to pray for it.

Because if I don't then there is no hope for these spirit-crushing, knee-bending circumstances. If I do not believe God will grant me patience and is growing me patient then all that is left is despair and smack down cards.

That's not a deck I want to deal with.

On my knees, nose to ground, I search and find these gifts:
  • counseling sessions which give us the time and space to practice patience with Reese
  • God delighting in hard prayers prayed
  • A desire to pray for patience
  • helping Ben to find his "inside stopper"
  • grace cards and the chance to start again
  • that God gave us these children knowing full well we'd mess it up every day
  • autumn in the air
  • birth of one fresh from heaven to a close friend
Happily sharing with:

    Friday, September 14, 2012

    that one thing

    Focus. I want to zoom in on life, finding that one thing to concentrate upon, admire, astonish over. Where the edges all around that one thing are blurred, important, yes, to the picture's composition, but washing into the background, letting that one thing display its glory.

    And God should be that one thing and He is. But I'm asking Him for another. Something, one thing, I can focus on here on earth. The overriding purpose in my life. Fulfilling His plans for me. Instead of trying to keep everything in focus.

    I think of Jesus and His desire to save us. And Paul's heart for the Gentiles. And the missionaries who are called to a specific country, a specific peoples.


    Five minutes may not be long, but it does force you to focus!

    Do you have one focus (apart from God) or do you feel fragmented like I do, passionate about many things?

    Another 5-minute writing adventure with Lisa-Jo and the Five Minute Friday community.

    Five Minute Friday

    Tuesday, September 11, 2012

    ten life-changing books

    I remember the first time it clicked...the putting together of letters and sounds to read words. I can't recall the book or my age though I'm sure it was somewhere around five, but I do remember the startling realization I actually was reading the words and not from knowing the story by heart.

    My appetite grew from there.

    Anne of Green Gables was the next epoch (one of her words) in my book reading history - the introduction to thick chapter books. I persevered through daunting words and read through the whole series plus other Montgomery classics. There was a time when I looked for the thickest book to read, something to last longer than a few days. Of course, the subject needed to appeal too. War & Peace never did.

    And then I fell in love with Jesus. Falling in love with Him couple with ingesting His bestseller, taking it in to the depths of your soul and, alters appetites.

    Today, I cannot read a book unless it fits with the season He has me in. I can try to struggle through the pages, but if He doesn't whisper to me through the lines of another, I've learned to put it down. It may get picked up again, when the season fits, but others go the way of autumn, their leaves falling to ground.

    And here are 10 of the books He's allowed to change my life, my course of thinking in some way:

    1. Left Behind (you'll need to read here why this gets the number one spot)
    2. the Bible (read the story behind #1 and you'll see why this is the only reason I put God at #2)
    3. Praying God's Word
    4. One Thousand Gifts
    5. 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess and Crazy Love might be here too, but I haven't finished it yet.
    6. The Hole in Our Gospel
    7. Waking the Dead: The Glory of a Heart Fully Alive
    8. Same Kind of Different As Me & Under the Overpass ('cause they are on similar subjects)
    9. Thrive Foods
    10. the dictionary (but this is a post-in-waiting)

    Honorable mentions include The Case for Christ (because it affirmed that I wasn't believing in another Santa Claus and mirrored my own atheist-turned-believer experience) and many Max Lucado books, among the first I read as a new believer.

    How about you? Have any of the above titles changes your life too? What titles would be on your list?

    Linking for the first time with:
    Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings

    Monday, September 10, 2012

    the habits we keep

    the excessive essential packing list I wrote for our vacation
    I'm developing a rather odd habit. It involves notebooks - the black speckled composition kind. I think I have at least 5 on the go now all with different titles and half creased pages throughout most of these - my way of marking different "chapters."

    Many are a mish mash of journaling, prayer journaling, Bible studies, word studies, Scriptures that strike me, ideas I need to write out so I don't forget them.

    It probably would be easier to write these thoughts out on a computer for easy filing. Or maybe write on loose leaf and then keep it in a binder with tabs for different topics. But there's just something about writing in a bound book. The way pen glides over paper. The warmth of touching once living, sacrificing itself so these words could pour forth. The unavoidable truth that paper and pen do not frustrate from malfunction, become obsolete and are available at moments notice when inspiration strikes. Do you find this too?

    And do you have any quirky habits that have grown on you? Ones endearing and those which speak of your heart? And do they create happy chaos in your life but ground you in some way so you don't want to give them up?

    recording gifts (here and in a different journal just for that purpose ;)...
    • pen to paper
    • click of keyboard
    • the brushing of hand over paper
    • notebooks for writing thoughts and capturing moods
    • the way writing connects us to God and the people who walked before us
    • Reese cuddled next to me as I write this, book in hand
    • communion under trees

    sharing with:

    Friday, September 7, 2012

    tongue tangled

    I'm not very graceful. I think I rather stumble around clumsily on the dance floor, my two left feet tripping up the steps I want to take.

    I'm not talking about a real dance floor, but the one of life.

    Or perhaps it's my tongue I'm thinking of. Yeah, that's it. If there's an equivalent to having two left feet for the tongue, then I think I've got it. Getting tongue tied also doesn't help matters.

    Perhaps that's why I like to write - and why the 5-minute Friday thing is so appealing and mortifying at the same time.

    When I write, I can think out what I'd like to say, rethink, edit, polish. Make it look all pretty and shiny and...graceful.

    When I talk thinks come out of my mouth I don't intend and I think I think it out much more eloquently. And then there's the times when I speak the things I shouldn't and my foot gets firmly implanted in my mouth, making the dance that much more awkward.

    I'd like to be graceful in my speech. To experience the dance of encouraging, pleasant, kind, loving words always flowing from heart to mouth. Until I reach that point, I guess I'll just have to dance the funky chicken.

    Okay, I seriously prefer writing with my editor's hat firmly in place. Either that or choose the Book of James as my dancing partner.

    Anyway...want to join the fun of writing on something for 5 minutes? Here's the link to the party at Lisa-Jo's...

    Five Minute Friday

    Wednesday, September 5, 2012

    WFMW: Rinse Repeat School Lunches

    I pack my kids lunches for school. It's just what I do.

    I love that I know what they're eating and that it mirrors what I do for them at home. But it can be exhausting to think up what items to tuck in their lunch bags, especially now that egg salad is off the menu. It was one of my "go to's" and enjoyed by 100% of my kids.

    So to save my mental sanity, I came up with a school lunch menu plan that is repeated every wee, though I mix up the days these items appear. And below this mix and match meal plan, see a few tips for how I make this work and save time too. (And this one's for you too Allie and G!)

    Rinse Repeat School Lunch Menu

    Main Dish
    1. pasta
    2. baked beans
    3. oven fries/sweet potato fries
    4. sandwich (pbj, tuna, tomato, pb & apple)
    5. soup or salad

    Bonus item: leftovers from a meal the kids actually liked - sanity and time saver

    Veggie sides
    1. carrots and hummus
    2. celery and nut butter
    3. cucumbers and hummus
    4. carrots and nut butter mix
    5. celery and hummus

    Fruit sides
    1. apple slices
    2. pineapple
    3. orange wedges
    4. watermelon
    5. kiwi

    Tips and Side Notes
    • Obviously these choices reflect what my kids like. For your family figure out an assortment of items they enjoy, then come up with a similar mix and match plan.
    • I keep the drink option simple, inexpensive and eco-friendly: filtered tap water in a stainless steel water bottle
    • For this to work, you'll need stainless steel containers with lids and containers on hand to hold sauces and condiments. I found mine in the closeout section of our discount grocery store. (Praising the Lord for that find!) Pair these with a reusable, insulated lunch bag and not only are you helping to keep God's green earth green, but your lunch time options expand greatly. Here's one resource for eco-friendly lunchware or Google "stainless steel lunch containers" for additional finds.
    • Soup requires a stainless steel container with a screw on lid. Try a small water bottle and send a stainless steel container for your child to pour it into
    • For items needing to be warmed, place them in the oven while you're eating breakfast. When it's time to go, place aluminum foil over the container, pop on the lids and wrap the foil around the container's body. It should keep the items warm until lunch time.
    • For the pasta, fries, soup and salad options, I plan these for the night before and make extra. HUGE timesaver.
    • To keep things fresh, if I have extra treats on hand, I'll pop those in too, but I don't go out of the way to plan for them.

     Lunches I can repeat that save time, energy and help plan my shopping list every week? That works for me.

    Linking with Kristen for her Works For Me Wednesday series.

    Tuesday, September 4, 2012

    summer in waiting

    I wanted to write a shiny happy summer post for this invitation of Jen's and the SDG crew. Really, I did. I even had one almost ready to publish. But this God of ours, He has a way of interrupting our best intentions if they don't match what's in our heart. 

    So be warned, this may not be the typical happy summer post you expected to read. But if you're only in the mood right now for happy, here are a few I posted over the summer ('cause they're true too)..
    For the gardeners
    For the hikers
    For the crafty firefly lovers
    For the beach goers
    And for the celebrating family moments-ers (here and here)

    Now onto real...

    When God interrupted my shiny happy post writing, I started to get quiet and pray and ask. Specifically, I asked Him to give me a picture to sum up this summer. Here's the one He picked:

    I snapped this one in Februrary 2011. Winter run off watering ground waiting to bloom spring.

    This summer was winter-waiting-for-spring. And I am waiting too.

    Because God has me in this valley not of my choosing, but of His. And though I want to will myself out of it, have askedprayedbegged to be on the path up and out, God firmly shelters me here. So it's hard to feel summer when you're learning to shed clothes you've worn too long but feel naked without (and you know this has nothing to do with literal clothes or a desire to go all Eve in the Garden before the tempting serpent messed things up). It's hard to feel summer when you stomach swims sick with anxiety over the tide of life - not just the big things, but the little things too. It's hard to feel summer light when you're fighting the winter dark.

    But there's beauty in this winter valley too. Do you see it?

    The water trickling to ground.

    The living water that will coax bulbs and seeds to shed their paper skins and struggle to find the light. It's the search and the stretch for joy, contentment and the peace beyond understanding when the dark earth still covers the life stirring beneath.

    And that's why this picture is a perfect snapshot of my summer. Because I am that seed, that bulb waiting to bloom. I am summer in waiting.