Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving UPdate

WOW! Thanksgiving came and went in a big hurry, didn't it? Hope yours was a blessed one!

Our attempt at making my mom's dressing turned out not-so-great. Let's just say she didn't really give specific directions, and it was more fun making it than eating it! Since we were already in the kitchen I decided to try a new concoction: butterscotch chex mix. I got this idea because Smooch's friend had made these over-the-top butterscotch rice krispie treats with chocolate icing....ooooh...the kind of treat that, upon the first bite, you hear yourself exclaim, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!" Well, b-chips don't really melt the same way c-chips do so, disappointed, I left the mixing bowl on the counter...spoon still stuck in it...and I think Scott ate it down, down, down to China town.

Took M on Wed to see Santa. To prep him before we left the house, I walked him over to our tree where we have a small ornament with last year's photo. I looked at the photo...looked at M....and realized I had bought him almost the exact same holiday outfit as last year!!! Someone please help me out of this fashion box that I'm stuck in! So his photos look almost the same...only he's bigger.

We left Santa (BTW, M did not smile AT ALL...which made Santa's elves a little grumpy) and when we got to our car I realized I had left my camera at Santa's workshop! PANIC! It's difficult to run through the mall (in wedge heels!) holding a child half your size without looking panicked! The grumpiest of the elves handed it to me with a knowing look when I breathlessly arrived back at the sell-your-kidney-for-a-Santa-photo counter.

Relieved, M and I headed to an outdoor shopping area for a little photoshoot. Despite taking off my lens cap to find that my lens protector had been shattered (perhaps some elfish payback for my laughter at their feeble attempts to make M smile?), I was determined to get in some good practice...and sweet M was very cooperative! Below are some of the photos. Sorry some are so small. I edited them in Lightroom (a new program I am trying for my class) and I don't know how to make them bigger without sacrificing quality....and my Flickr account is maxed out for free uploads for this month!









happy thanksgiving!

Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Psalm 136:1



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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

VIP (very important post)

OK, I need to know two things about you. Two very important things.

1. In the shower, do you primarily stand facing the shower head or facing away from it? Now which way does your spouse face? (If you are single, please vote but ask a member of the opposite sex which way he faces in order to keep the numbers even.)

2. Refrigerated items such as salsa, mayo, dressing, etc., have expiration dates on them. After they have been opened, do you keep them until their exp date? Or do you think that the exp date becomes null and void upon opening and therefore toss the item prior to that date? For example, if last week you bought some salad dressing and the exp date is, say, March 2010...if you open it for Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, would you keep it until March 2010?



I have put two "polls" in my sidebar to the left for your voting convenience!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

post-o-rama!!!!!!!!!!!

Happy Monday, everyone! Hope you are feeling thankful as we head into this week of turkey-licious indulgence. One of the things I really wanted to learn from my mom before she passed was how to make dressing. No one makes it like my mom. The opportunity did not present itself, so I'm going to have to try it on my own. I have never (as in EVER) cooked a Thanksgiving meal before. Not even parts of the meal....well, at least not any important parts. In fact, Scott's side of the family asks yearly that I just bring salad...I think they figure I can't really mess up chopped vegetables.

M and I went to the store the other day and, as we were walking down the main aisle, he spotted the lingerie section. Now M has only seen my bras a handful of times...and they are not a topic of regular discussion...but boy did he know how to shout "BRA, BRA, MOM, BRA, MOM, BRA, BRA!" at the top of his lungs while leaning almost completely out of the cart to point at the displays. Good, good times these are.

Onto a completely different subject...you know those balance scales? The ones that have the two weighing trays? Here's my thought...at the end of the day, if you put your sins from the day on one side and your confessions of those sins on the other, would they balance? I don't mean this in a legalistic sense but in the idea that confession of our sins to God is good for our relationship with Him.

If you have accepted the forgiveness of Jesus for your sins, then your sins are forgiven.

FOR.GIV.EN. Period. Finished. The end.

However, sanctification is a process...and, as frustrating as it is, we do still sin. You may recall in John 13 when Jesus washed His disciples' feet. Peter said "wash my hands and head, too" but Jesus declined by stating, "He who is bathed needs only to wash [his] feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean..."

Through our faith in Christ, we are clean in the sense that we are forgiven and reconciled to God...and yet living in this world our feet do get dirty. One of M's Bibles shows a guy stepping in chicken poop in illustration for this story. Yep, there are days that my feet get pretty covered with the chicken poop of gossip, pride, selfishness, and idolatry (including BLOGGING!). And they need...I need...to be washed clean.

Think about when you have been wronged by someone you love and how genuine repentance and remorse by that person brings healing and growth to the relationship. Without repentance and remorse, the relationship will suffer. Perhaps, in shame, that person will begin to avoid you, possibly even cutting all ties with you. The same can happen with God and us. Whether or not we realize it, our sins can begin to weigh heavy upon our shoulders and the guilt causes us to stop seeking after God. Intimacy is broken. Additionally, our confessions basically say that we stand in agreement with what God says in sinful and, therefore, harmful to us. We line up our thinking with His. We submit to His truth.

Can't think of any sins to confess? Ask God to show you! Job inquired, "How many [are] my iniquities and sins? Make me know my transgression and my sin." Then you can pray Psalm 51 as a prayer requesting forgiveness.

Psalm 66:18 says, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear." I do believe this is true and that we need to be mindful of this verse. But if today you are holding onto the guilt and shame of sin and it's keeping you from sweet fellowship with God, allow these verses to hug your heart:

Psalm 86:5 For You, Lord, [are] good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.


I edited this w/out sound (my computer is on strike) so I have no clue if I cut off anything cute...
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edited2add: Rebecca's Mark is home from Iraq and has shared a wonderfully encouraging post HERE!

Friday, November 21, 2008

New blog!

My precious friend, Kari, has a new blog called At Home Ministries.

I actually had a "date" with her last night, and it was like cool water to a thirsty soul. Kari is real and unpretentious...and she genuinely seeks to glorify God in all she does.

I encourage you to check out her new blog!

ONE DAY LEFT...

to help precious Owen come home!!!! Check out the To China for Owen Fundraiser. Entries will be accepted up till 11:59pm today, Friday, November 21.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

in the fire

I've received many emails, comments, phone calls, and cards sharing your sympathy in my mom's passing, so I wanted to post how I've been doing...and what God's been doing.

You may know the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego from the book of Daniel. These three God-lovin' guys refused to worship the golden image of King Nebuchadnezzar, so the King ordered them to be bound and thrown into the fiery furnace. In a fit of rage, Nebuchadnezzar demanded the furnace to be heated 7 times hotter than normal.

I'm a cold-booded girl and love the heat. Before my sweaty M came home, I used to drive with my heat on full blast and never turn it down until I arrived at my destination. Nevermind that my eyeballs would dry out and my fingertips catch on fire. I loved the almost-oppressive feel of the heat surrounding me. When I think of heat in terms of the trials in life, however, I'd prefer the thermostat to be set much lower. You know, cool and comfortable...like San Diego weather.

Sometimes we have little control over the things that heat up our lives...unforeseen financial troubles, debilitating illnesses, unfaithful spouses, untimely deaths of loved ones. They simply engulf us like vicious flames and leave us gasping for air...and just when we think we can't take any more, the heat is turned up like Nebuchadnezzar's furnace.

"I have a tumor in my lung."

I feel the heat.

"The cancer has spread to my brain."

Hotter.

"He told me to go home and prepare for hospice."

Hotter.

"Tish, she's gone."

How much hotter, Lord?

Back to the book of Daniel...the three men were thrown into the fiery furnace but, when the King looked inside it, he saw not three but four figures! The consensus of most Bible scholars is that the fourth figure was a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus. Jesus was there in the fire with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. Yes, God allowed them to go through the fire, but He did not allow them to go through it alone.

I have read Philippians 4:7 many times and wondered about this peace which "surpasses all understanding." I know that this side of Heaven I'll never be able to comprehend the ways of an infinite God; however, I do know that He has been covering me in a peace that I have never felt before. During the week following my mother's death I found myself repeatedly asking Him, "Is this what your peace which surpasses understanding feels like?" This doesn't mean that there hasn't been (and will continue to be) grief...the deep grief of loss that mercilessly entangles itself around your heart and brings that heavy sense of ache. Yes, the grief has been present, but it has been overshadowed by His steady and faithful outpouring of peace.

I believe, in my case, this peace has come through the power of His Word and its unshakeable truth. Before I knew God, I would say something like "Oh, he/she is in a better place now" when someone passed away. I didn't know what I meant by that statement or that I even believed it. Just exactly where was that place and why was it better? It simply sounded like the right thing to say. Now, however, I lean on His words and the truths that they convey.

I know with confidence that
My mother was reconciled to God through her faith in Jesus.
Because of that, she is now in heaven with Jesus.
Heaven is a FAR better place.
She is not mourning her death.
She may have wondered "why me?" while on this earth, but now she has clear understanding.
I will see her again.

And back to Daniel one more time...when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego came out of the furnace, they were not charred, singed, or burned. In fact, they didn't even smell of smoke. The only thing that had been destroyed by the fire? The ties that bound them. (Cool, huh?...but that's a whole other post by itself). Needless to say, King Nebuchadnezzar was astounded when he witnessed this. However, I love that the King did not say, "I will worship you, you flame-retardant fellows" or "All bow to the heat-resistant ones!"

No, he did not praise the men. Instead He praised the God of the men.

My God has been faithful. Jesus has not only walked through the fire with me, but He has carried me the entire way. Join me in praising Him!

This song has been my comfort food: ANCHOR OF MY SOUL
(Ooops, seems like this link isn't working. The song is by Telecast if you are interested in hearing it.)

And...because my mom would have shuddered at the thought of a post without photos....i'm still practicing, practicing, practicing...

Monday, November 17, 2008

all matthew

My baby does not say words like ball or baby or byebye. He says hot tea.

matthewcatchingball



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Thursday, November 13, 2008

please...

If you know of anyone who may be considering adoption, please forward this link to them. Christian World Adoption is part of the Hope Project, which aims at helping older children in China find their families. One thing I loved about this site was watching the videos of the kids. It is amazing to see their precious personalities!

some practice shots

trying to practice without using photoshop at all....

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

on a lighter note...honest weblog

Stefanie tagged me for the Honest Weblog. I'm not putting up the Honest Weblog icon because, honestly, I'm too lazy. I think these are the rules:

“When you receive the prize you must write a post showing it, together with the name of who has given it to you, and link them back. Choose a minimum of 7 blogs that you find brilliant in their content or design. Show their names and links and leave them a comment informing they were prized with ‘Honest Weblog’.
List [if you can and/or dare] at least ten honest things about yourself. And then, pass it on.”

I'm adding pics for some of the facts because Rebecca did, and I want to be like her when I grow up.

1. I HATE drawers. None of my clothes are in dresser drawers, and I don't even let Scott have them either. I prefer shelves...large open shelves where I can just throw, toss, stuff, and wad up my clothes as shown below. And this is the neatest of my shelves.

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2. I am CHEAP. Frugal, Tightwad, Penny Pincher...ah, music to my ears. I can talk myself out of buying anything...at least for myself...I actually love giving money away. Anyway, I have had this curling iron for OVER 10 YEARS. On top of that, I didn't even buy it! I got it for free at my aunt's yard sale. It looks disgusting, but it rocks my curls.
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3. I know nothing of organization. This is my drawer (which I HATE), and this is exactly why I HATE drawers. Yes, that is my calendar buried under the mess so now you can see why I miss everyone's birthdays and other important events. This honest fact is actually perplexing to me because I used to organize events for a living.
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4. I pretty much forbid knick-knacks and collectibles in my house. In my opinion, they only have one purpose in their little knick-knacky lives...collecting dust! These shells are my only "collection," and they are from our various trips to the beach...but as I moved the jar from its spot in my bathroom to take this photo, I saw a huge circle mark on the shelf where I haven't dusted!!! ARGH, see what I mean?
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5. I'm addicted to the baby monitor. It is a love-hate relationship. The end.
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6. & 7. My toes are ALWAYS painted (my fingernails are NEVER painted). I have to keep them painted because, years ago, I attended a 70s Disco Party in some kickin' black boots and danced til...well, til the nail on my big toe was black & blue. Blaaaaaaack and bluuuuue. Now it just looks funky...way too funky to be all naked and exposed.
My tattoo is supposed to mean "loyal" or "faithful." For all I know it could mean "hippopotamus poop." I was inked while visiting Iowa for a conference when I worked in college admissions, and I really doubt that the dude had a clue about the Chinese writing system.
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8. I overpronate like a mad woman. Because I walk on the inside of my feet, I tend to fall out of my shoes if my feet aren't laced up, buckled up, velcroed up (OK, not velcro!) like a straight jacket. This seriously limits my cute shoe possibilities as even Old Navy flip flops can be mighty dangerous for me! I often look like I am tripping over my own feet. High heels are pretty much out for me, but I can do a "wedge" heel like below. Wedge heel. That sounds so orthopaedically sexy, huh?.
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9. Some of you may remember me mentioning what a difficult time I've been having shooting in manual because of the FOCUSING! I seriously could not focus to save my life. Well, I found out today from my teacher that I was switching the wrong button to manual! I was switching my lens button rather than my camera button!!!! WHEW! I might have known this sooner had I read my manual but, honestly, I can't even read and retain a STOP sign. I think I need some kind of herbal thingy that helps me improve my concentration. I would know just what that herbal thingy was if only I could get through an entire article about it.

10. I think my boy can read. We have a book called "Leon and Bob" that we read fairly frequently. Well, the other day I got out some Christmas books that had been packed away...one of which is "Bob the Reindeer." I said, "B...O...B...what does that spell?" And M replied, "Bob!"
Also, some of you have asked if M was glad to see me when I returned from IL. Well, I went in his room the morning after I arrived, he saw me...smiled...and then said, "Daddy." Pretty much he wouldn't let Scott get out of his sight that entire day. So...no, it wasn't the slo-mo running into each other's arms...smiling and laughing while we threw our heads back in glee. But he did smile at me.

Tag yourself if you want to. I'm late in posting mine so I am sure this is old news.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

i will rise

Just returned home from IL late last night. As I sat on the bed weary from my travels, Scott shared with me a song that reminded him of my mom. He mentioned wondering what it must have been like for her on the night she passed...to be in a sedated state...not really knowing what was going on...and then to hear Jesus call her name.

He called for her.

She arose and followed.

Monday, November 3, 2008

thank you

During one of my visits home my mom asked if, upon her passing, I would thank all the people who prayed for her. She is now in the presence of Christ and, since so many of you have lifted my family in prayer these past months, I wanted to post an expression of our deep gratitude. My heart is full of "thanks" for you.



"I thank my God upon every remembrance of you..." Phil 1:3

Saturday, November 1, 2008

November!

As we head into this "month of giving thanks," our hearts are heavy with my mother's illness as we know this month may be her last with us. November also marks the year anniversary of the passing of Scott's father, our beloved Pa. How I miss his grin.

Yet we are not consumed by this heaviness.

Bittersweet. Sweetly bitter?

How does one describe hope in the midst of grief, joy in the midst of sadness, peace in the midst of pain? Because, yes, the pain IS there, and it IS real. But so is the joy. And the peace. And the hope...oh, so much the hope! For in our hearts is the only hope that is unchanging and unfailing. It is steady and sure. It will not deteriorate, decay, or die.

It is the hope of our Risen Lord. And, my, how He loves us.

He loves you, too. He really, really loves you.

And so we give THANKS for...

M had a great time at Fall Festival! Ponies, treat bags, soft toys, and seeing the M Family made for a truly festive evening. He got too hot in the monkey suit, so we had a little naked savage running around for awhile. M would only jump in the soft toy once I got in with him...before that he just stood at the entrance and held his dad's hand. The pony ride could have been a hit except his little shoe kept slowly...slowly...slowly falling off which was STRESSING HIM OUT! At the moment said shoe lost contact with foot, wise daddy swooped M off the horse and volunteer guy dodged in and out of little pony legs to retrieve the sacred croc. The funniest costume? A little dude dressed as Elvis...complete with guitar and hair!



I made a delicious pumpkin crunch dessert that I found on the Phatchik blog. I won't share her name because I don't think it is public on her blog, but she is also the generous sharer who told me how to create the following mosaics with my flickr account. Click here for the site. You can click on the mosaics to view them full screen. NOTE: just eat like one spoonful of the crunch and then walk away...your stomach will thank you!




MAKING IT MEANINGFUL: As we've talked about making the holidays less about money and more about love, I decided to involve M in doing our Christmas cards. I found some inexpensive Christmas letterhead that has an uncolored border of trees, mittens, etc. , and M has been coloring on each one. Once he is finished, I will write a letter of love to each card recipient. I think this is going to take quite a bit of time, which I like because I want to really reflect on the blessings of family and friends this year...and to let them know they are cherished.

THANKS FOR THE DAY: Today I am grateful for a DELICIOUS potluck with families of the men from Scott's Bible Study. What a great group of guys to have your husband hangin' with!