Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Longest Day of the Year

Most people have written great blogs about their 2009 and giving a summary of their year or their decade. Tonight, I am too tired to do either.  Today was so monumental, I can't begin to think about what happened in the past. We woke up at 3am to catch an early morning flight that saved us  about $150 per ticket.  Arriving home at 10am we discovered the cat was accidentally left inside the house for a week with no food and no kitty litter.  Yea, poor kitty. As we were bringing luggage out, he must have slinked back inside.

We also discovered if a dishwasher is left running so you can return to clean dishes, leaking water can warp your solid maple hardwood flooring and leak to the bedroom below.

So, today we spent a few hours and way too many dollars at the laundromat cleaning all the cushions and the cover from our one month old IKEA couch, cleaning carpeting, consoling and feeding the kitty, and trying to get that nasty smell of kitty urine out of our burning noses. My husband pried up a few floor boards and set a fan at work trying to prevent mildew damage in the kitchen.

Kelly-Across-the-Street saved the day by reading my Facebook status and inviting us over for a delicious meal of beef stew, squash, spinach salad, bread.  Her desert made everything better.  Brownies, with chunks of chocolate, topped with chocolate frosting. 

Maybe tomorrow I'll be ready to face the past year and the past decade.  For now, I have to just know that our family survived two traumas on very little sleep without yelling, fussing and blaming each other, but just quietly, tiredly, worked together.

That's reason enough to celebrate - the grace of our God and the God of all grace - through each day of the past decade, the past year and today, The Longest Day of the Year.

We had a beautiful visual to begin our day, I think it set the tone for the day.

Lamentations 3:22-23 "It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed,
because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning: great is His faithfulness."

As I peered above the clouds, as close to Heaven as I will ever get before death, I marveled in His creation, His power, His majesty.

When my heart was ready, we arrived home, ready to face The Longest Day of the Year, because, we were filled with new mercies.

Great is Thy Faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my father!

There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not:
As thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Great is Thy faithfulness,
Great is Thy faithfulness,
Morning by morning new mercies I see:
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.


Great is Thy faithfulness,
Great is Thy faithfulness,
Morning by morning new mercies I see:
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!


Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth.
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide,
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sometimes, Mommas Eat Hot Food

Well inducted into the world of cold and interrupted meals with their two children, our daughter, Jana,  and her husband Aaron planned an evening out  with just the grown-ups. 

No kids.

The women wanted to dress up, the men wanted to go casual. The women wore newer jeans with new tops. The men wore older jeans with old shirts. We shaved, they didn't.  We have all  learned the art of compromise in marriage.

Jana and I not only looked great, we both smelled great. I haven't smelled like baby urp in about five years, Jana about five minutes. We got out the door unscathed to enjoy an evening as adult friends, not as parents and child. This new stage of relationship has been a blessing, and a relief.  We have passed on the parenting baton with our firstborn.

One down, five to go.  But, who's counting?

They chose the Matsu Japanese Restaurant, where we ate very amazing, very hot, teppan-yaki food. It was hot because they cooked it in front of you. He even cut it into bite-sized pieces for us while he cooked. Parents who have cut up three meals a day into tiny little, non-chokable pieces,  totally appreciate that detail.

My husband satisfied his raw tuna craving with the Spicy Tuna Roll. Yes, that tuna is raw, very raw.

The chef is part juggler, part entertainer, part stand-up comic. It isn't just a meal, it is an experience.

Our fried rice was prepared then shaped into heartburn, then a beating heart, then Mickey Mouse.

A slice of onion became a flaming volcano.

Each part of the meal was prepared along with antics, including tossing, noise-making and flipping unused items, like shrimp tails, into his chef's hat.

Like a gringo, I asked our chef if he was Japanese.  He laughed, admitted he was born in Mexico, but assured me his Japanese name was Orlando.

 I didn't have to ask Hana, our waitress, if she was Japanese. I figured that one out all on my own.

She recommended Red Bean Ice Cream for desert. I'm thinking the only red beans I know are kidney beans. Azuki beans are NOT like the red beans I know. It was  deliciously unfamiliar.

The service was great, the show was entertaining, the  food was delicious, but somehow, the highlight of the whole evening was watching my daughter eat a hot meal.

How to Eat a Ruby's Hotdog

To fully experience California, the extended family gathered  on  Huntington Beach to enjoy a Pacific Ocean sunset.

I am always a little annoyed that people dare stand between my camera and my view,
 but somehow those silhouettes always end up enhancing my photos, not ruining them.

We were told by many we had to eat at Ruby's Surf City Diner.
 Since we give in to peer pressure easily when it comes to food, we walked down the long pier to sit in those  vintage red and chrome chairs and eat some really good American food.

Fisherman trying to utilize the last fragments of sunlight on the end of the pier.

Brookelyn was tired from the day on the beach, the long walk down the pier, and the wait for her food, so she dove right into the hotdog, giving a great tutorial.

If you think you are a big girl, hold the hotdog with only one hand.

Stop eating long enough to quietly exclaim to Daddy how good the "da-da" is.

If you want to dig your little nose right between the buns, use both hands to hold onto the hotdog.

When you get tired of the bun,  pull the hotdog out.

Hold the hotdog vertically and lick all the ketchup off.

Hold the hotdog horizontally and lick the ketchup off.

Set the hotdog down and act like a duck with the bun.

Get in trouble from Mommy for not eating your food while Gramma sheepishly puts the camera away. OK, to be honest, my battery died, or I would have kept taking pics of Brookie being adorably Brookie.

Seems to me, we also had problems when I was with Brookie at McDonalds and a coffee shop.

If I am not careful, my daughter is going to start searching for the blogosphere for a tutorial on,
 "How to be a Well-Behaved Gramma."

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Mommas Eat Cold Food

As a single woman, I viewed motherhood through rose colored glasses, imagining adorable, fresh-smelling cooing babies, in cute outfits. I imagined holding them, kissing them, changing them, singing to them, teaching them about Jesus.

I never imagined losing sleep while holding a crying baby.

I never imagined the real smell of that adorable child,  who ejected vile fluids from all bodily openings.

I never imagined rarely eating a warm meal for over a decade.

My first rude awakening into the true challenges of parenthood came soon after I married Scott.  We invited Tom and Jaci to dinner, a  couple the Lord used as a godly example in the early years of our marriage and parenting.  The entire meal, Jaci spent time cutting meat and feeding the toddler, while holding the squirming baby on her lap. Tom had to leave the table to discipline and to take the toddler poddy.

When the toddler was fed, the baby needed to be nursed.  By the time the rest of us were done with our meal, Jaci's meal was still on her plate, cold. The gravy had congealed on her mountain of mashed potatoes.  We didn't have a microwave to rewarm the meal, but she didn't care.  Her babies were happy, so she was happy.  She ate the whole plate of food cold, with a smile on her face, graciously complementing me and thanking me for the meal.

I never got that visual out of my mind, nor her sweet spirit in serving her children at personal expense.  Her example was a shining beacon for  my next two decades of interrupted and cold meals.

When we arrived Christmas Day, my daughter and her husband had a wonderful ham dinner prepared.

We all sat down and devoured the meal, laughing, passing and making new holiday memories...

...while Jana sat on the couch feeding baby Bubba...with a smile on her face.

When Jaci cared for her children that evening 23 years ago,  I know she wasn't thinking that she was displaying her faith to profoundly influence my mothering. She also wasn't thinking that I would tell my children about her impactful example.  In fact, if I were to get in touch with her and relate this pivotal moment to her, I am pretty sure she wouldn't even remember the situation.  Jaci was just serving the Lord as a joyful mother of children.

When we think of the admonition in Titus 2 for older women to teach younger women, we think of women's Bible studies, radio programs or well-known authors who come through town to talk about their latest book on parenting.  These things can be blessing, but I think we are most impacted by those quiet moments where we watch older believers living their faith before us.

It's also a solemn admonition that our quiet moments of parenting  might be a living sermon to younger moms who are
and imitating.

Jaci preached a sermon for 23 years in my heart by being a Mommy who ate cold food.

Sisters, what sermon are we preaching with our lives?

Monday, December 28, 2009

MM Meditation - Fear and Trembling

This Sunday's devotion was written by Keith Trevolt III, a younger brother in the Lord whose faith and zeal have inspired my entire family.

Currently, intent of obtaining a solid form of employment and direction in life has led me to look into the medical field. I have had the privilege of observing a handful of Physical and Occupational Therapists in the local rehabilitation clinics here in Wichita. My second observation was done with Doug, an Orthopedic PT, a solid believer in Christ. He is also an instructor at WSU.

Doug and I shared a good amount of time discussing spiritual issues and assessing job experiences. I was thankful to God for this encounter and continued my next scheduled observational visits to other clinics. On my fourth and final day I mentioned to the other PT's and OT's that I had shadowed Doug. Everyone knew his name and gave him high marks of commendation. This impressed me very much, because not all Christians who claim Christ  live for Him in a way that exemplifies their profession of faith.

This reminded me of what Paul said in Philippians 2:12, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."

Here's someone who has established a name that is respected in a honored profession and, on top of that, in the name of Jesus. This has been done with fear and trembling. This is a very practical blueprint of sanctification and refinement for the Christian's life.

These two words were used in the same order in Psalm 2. 

The godless are raging in rebellion and God is demanding fear and trembling, in essence, repentance. The Spirit of God beseeches the high-positioned kings and judges, concerning salvation by crying out in verse 21, "Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling."

Paul would echo this same focus of prerequisite devotion concerning our sanctification.  We are to have fear, a healthy reverential awe of Him who called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light. We have so great a Savior, requiring that we represent Him in a blameless and steadfast effort.

Having heard from other PT and OT workers relating to Doug's faithful testimony was thoroughly pleasing to witness and encourages me to attempt the same in my own life.

Doug, who in a brief segment of time in my life, exemplified Christ by following this principle - fearing and trembling.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas in California

This year my husband and I celebrated our first Christmas in one of our children's homes.  We flew to California to celebrate with our oldest daughter, Jana, her husband and two kids.

I was so excited about the occasion,
 I took picture of each child greeting their older sister as they came through the doorway.

Brookelyn wasn't so happy to see Grandpa. 
After using Skype to be in touch for the past half year,
 we thought she would be familiar with us.
We were wrong.
Good thing Skype is free.

Brayden was very happy to see Grandpa.
 He was happy to see everyone. 
He giggled and smiled and drooled on everybody equally.

I forgot to keep my things away from Brookie's curious little fingers. 
She thought she was taking a video with my Flip.

I always peek during prayer to see if she is peeking.
 She always is.
 I wonder if she knows that I am
peeking at her peeking.

I asked her to put on her hat for me. 
She's laughing underneath.

She just needed a little help from Momma.

She's ready for Christmas!

And, after 22 years of parenting,
we are starting to really feel the benefits of continuously pouring our lives into our children. 
They're feeding us, caring for our needs, making sure we're comfortable.
We feel so blessed.

I want to reassure you parents of young kids,
someday, they will pour back.
 I can't promise you when,
I can't promise you how much,
I can't promise how,
but by the grace of God,
you will receive back.

I don't look at Jana and her beautiful family with regret that I gave so much.
I wonder if I did enough.
I wonder what I could have done better.
I wonder what spiritual things I failed to teach her,
that could have helped her during her growing up years.

But, as I watch her function as a wife, a mommy, a neighbor, a Christian,
I know that the Lord is making up for any failings on my part.

It's a beautiful cycle.

I read a saying once -
"Grandchildren are the reward for not killing your own children."
 I used to think it was funny.

Today, all I am thinking -
"Children are a blessing from the Lord," Psalm 127:3.
My blessing is now being blessed.

And, as I watch her pour herself into her family,
I know that cycle of blessing and growth is continuing,
by the grace of God.

Friday, December 25, 2009

What Do You Buy A Blogger For Christmas?

Two of my presents this year proved to me that a few people are reading and understanding my blog enough to retaliate my sense of humor.

From follower Amy, the granddaughter of Gramma Alice of the spritz cookie recipe, I received this wonderful wallhanging for the kids' bathroom.

"Changing the Toilet Paper Roll Will Not Cause any Brain Damage"  is in honor of a blogging      soliloquy about nobody in the house having the ability to change the toilet paper.

I hope the declaration of good health will promote ingenuity and diligence on the part of my offspring in this area of extreme challenge.  This wallhanging will definately improve my ability to have a Happy New Year!

And from my Daddy, three rolls of Scotch tape.  All for me.  I don't have to share - if I hide it well enough! The only dilemna is, should I hide it kinda' good so I can take it out and use it when I need it or should I hide it really, really, good so I have it for Christmas next year?  If I hide it that well, I definately risk not being able to find it when I need it.

But, wait a minute, wasn't I supposed to be replacing my parents' tape for years of "stealing" theirs?

Thank you for the special gifts, Daddy and Amy, I appreciate the encouragement and the laughter.

My gratitude for these two gifts actually extends to all my readers, who give me their time as a gift.  I am so appreciate of the support I've received in emails, comments and encouragements.  I have been blessed to meet so many new friends and sisters through blogging and it has been a great encouragement to meet other women who are blogging their way through parenting, marriage, meal planning, cleaning, crafting, sewing, thrift shopping,  organization and homeschooling.  What a blessing to have such great spiritual encouragement just a mouse click away.

May the Lord bless you and your families as you celebrate the birth of His Son.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Didja' Know Snowmen Have Bellybuttons?

In our house they do. Yes, that red thing on the bottom of each snowman is a bellybutton.

When Dad tackled the "frost cookies" item on the list of
 Things To Do That Aren't That Important But Make It Feel Like Christmas,
I was thankful, but knew I'd probably be in for a surprise. 
I wasn't disappointed.  
Our snowmen even had really cool red lips, leftover from our Valentine's Day baking.

He even made the frosting. 
We learned in a hurry the imitation vanilla we bought was too imitation to actually be like vanilla.
 He added more powdered sugar and tried to make the frosting the way it looks in the cookbooks.
 I also learned this was Scott's first time frosting and decorating cookies.
 Can it be?  Did I know that? 
I guess you really can learn new things about your spouse,
even after 23 years and 9 months and 23 days of marriage.

Jon got involved when we imposed the rule "you gotta frost if you wanna eat."

Rebekah is at the age where the sprinkles are everything. 
She made elaborate outfits on the gingerbread people with the various colored sprinkles and candies.

They ain't cookbook pretty.....

...they're "aawww, my family made them" pretty
...and they're done.

And Daddy giggled and the kids giggled
and the sound was an antidote for the crabbies that were welling up inside Mommy.

Another reminder of what we are all celebrating...

 "And she shall bring forth a son,
and thou shalt call his name JESUS:
for he shall save his people from their sins."
Matthew 1:21

One day left of shopping, baking, wrapping, cleaning, packing and whatever else is on that LIST.
What are you doing or thinking
to replace the CRABBIES
with CHRIST?

Delighted with the Garden d'Lights

For yet another Christmas adventure, we joined another family to tour the  GARDEN d'LIGHTS  at the Bellevue Botanical Gardens.   Thousands of volunteers create and set up fairy-tale scenery.

My pictures are amateur, but capture a little of the beauty we enjoyed as we meandered on garden paths, oohing and aahing at the artwork, the creativity and beauty displayed for our enjoyment.
 Last year the area enjoyed a lot of snow.  The displays were even more beautiful!

My friend and I were exclaiming that we would love to have some of these gorgeous displays in our own backyards.  Can you imagine sparkly clusters of grapes or forsythia hanging along your deck?  Checking out their website, I discovered they actually have classes in early spring for volunteers to help make the displays for the park, but then they can also purchase the lights to make displays for their own homes.

They use between 300,000 and 400,000 individual lights to create the displays.

The attraction opened November 28 and will be open until January 2nd.  It is open nightly from 5-10pm.

You are in paradise for a suggested donation of $1 per person or $5 for a family. People of all ages were mingling, snapping pictures, enjoying the festive feeling the lights sparked in our hearts.

This was my favorite - I love monkeys!

This holiday season, our family has really enjoyed seeing some of  the holiday events our area offers, many of them free or very inexpensive. During the holiday build-up, where we moms often feel the holiday presentation of our homes,presents, crafts and baking are going to be judged by magazine editors, so it is always wonderful to just
the twinkly lights of Christmas,
the light in the hearts of our friends
and the True Light of Christmas.

John 8:12 "Then Jesus spoke again unto them, saying,
 I am the light of the world:
he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

May you make the opportunity to enjoy the twinkly lights and the Light of the World this CHRISTmas.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Three Times Wasn't a Charm

The Spritz cookie dough I made in October needed to make a baked appearance.  I had been in the kitchen all day and was determined to finish the day's projects.

I thawed the dough and gathered my supplies.

My favorite cookie press, the electric one that can spit out cookies faster than I can load the dumb thing, was dead.  Totally dead.  Now she's buried.

But, I had a backup old-fashioned hand crank cookie gun I bought at the thrift store for $3.50.  I pulled it out, thinking I'd beat Murphy's Law, but discovered why somebody donated it.  It was missing a piece!  A crucial piece that actually holds the pattern piece onto the bottom end.

I was ready to quit, but remembered I had actually ordered one off the internet a few years ago.  I had been receiving this email for "free" stuff for homeschooling.  I shoulda known better.  Nothing is free.  This was a deal, only $5 for the cookie press, along with a nastily thin cookie sheet and a puny wire cooling rack.  But, hey it was only $5.  The only problem was, shipping was $25, unless you spent $25. 

Can you believe what I did?  Yes, I ordered five of them.  I never order off the internet, I never fall for those sucker deals, but I ordered 5 for $25. After all, I have four daughters, or so I reasoned in an unseasonable moment of insanity. Then, in utter embarrassment, I just shoved them in a corner shelf in the garage.  There they stayed, until today. I thought it would save the day.

When something is too good to be true, it probably because it isn't good or it isn't true.  We really had issues with the press. It wasn't good.

My husband stepped in to be the hero and filled the cookie press.  He tried and laughed and tried and laughed and tried and laughed. We removed the parchment paper.  We chilled the dough some more.  We tried different wrist techniques.  We couldn't get the dough to come out in cute little tree shapes, just big splotches.

I know this would have been a good time to praise my hubby, but with all the It Has To Be A Perfect Christmas Passion welling up inside me, I wouldn't let him bake these cookies.  He put all the dough back in the fridge.

But, he couldn't waste the dough left inside of the cookie press,  so made just one cookie.  After all, the oven had been preheating for nearly an hour.

It was aMMMMMMMazing!  We love Gramma Alice's Spritz recipe!  Since they taste even better when shaped into a tree, we will try again tomorrow after we borrow the cookie press from Kelly-Across-the-Street.

If there is one thing I am learning over and over and over again - it isn't about the projects, it is about the patience the trials of the projects produce.

James 1:3 "Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience."

After this holiday season, I should be going down in the Guiness Book of World Records for patience, because I feel like I have been swimming upstream to school both ways in the rain with two left feet.

But, in the future, I won't look back and marvel at all the goodies I baked, I will look back and marvel at the goodness the Lord worked in my heart by trying me over and over and over with trials.

Tomorrow, I plan on making cookies, but the Lord is planning on perfecting one of His beloved children.