Monday, December 31, 2007

Gluten Free Playdough


We made this and played while we waited for Daddy to come home from his half day of work today.


Gluten Free Playdough recipe:

1/2 cup rice flour

1/2 cup corn starch

1/2 cup salt

2 tsp. cream of tartar

1 cup hot water

1 tsp. cooking oil

food coloring


Mix all ingredients together in saucepan, cook on low heat, stirring occassionally for at least 5 minutes or until it forms a ball. Remove from heat, let cool for 10 minutes. Scoop into a large bowl, add at least 1/2 cup more rice flour, and 1/2 cup more corn starch, knead until well mixed and no longer sticky. Store in airtight container. If it gets to dry, add a few drops of water, If it's too sticky add more rice flour and corn starch in equal amounts.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Monday Highlights

Well, it'll be Monday in 19 minutes. Close enough.

1. Hannah was sick all weekend with a flu bug. I can handle the bottom end, but when it comes out the top end it just is a little much. Sorry if that was TMI. Dr P had us giving her powdered deglycyrrhizinated licorice or DGL for short. He wanted her to take 1/4 t. in her mouth and swallow it without water or food. Think powdered black licorice with no sugar. Now guess how she felt about that. It worked though! She had been super sick for 24 hours and still seemed to be feeling terrible, but after we started her on the stuff she got better right away. We gave her water though. :)

2. It is 11:42pm and there has been silence in the house for about 10 minutes. Whew. With Hannah sick, she gets used to special treatment and doesn't believe in going to bed anymore. We put them to bed at 9. She's a determined one, this one. Oh, there's Audrey again. Never mind.

3. We're having my parents and two youngest siblings over New Year's Eve. This makes us feel a little more socialized. At least we won't go to bed at 10pm like we have some years. It's hard to party till after midnight with little kids. I still miss it some though. Not that I ever partied that Hard, but... :)

4. We took the Christmas tree out last night. That was a relief. Our house looks so spacious now!
Plus, no more pine needles all over the carpet. What a mess.

5. I've been spending quite a bit of my time figuring out how to run a business lately. I'm reading things about marketing and leadership and writing business plans. It is absolutely fascinating me. In a way, I feel more like myself than I have in a few years. I think it's really good for me to have a project to do outside of raising the kids.

6. My latest food fascination: Ghee. It's clarified butter - they take out all the milk fat, so there's no lactose or casein in it, but it tastes like butter. Butter is the one dairy product I've never been able to give up, so the prospect of maybe being able to taste butter without being sick the next day is very exciting to me. I had some on bread at dinner and it was delicious. It's usually used in Indian cooking and you can do high heat cooking with it without it smoking, but I plan to try it in baking sometime soon.

It's been a pretty rough week and I'm kinda weary tonight. Hope your week was good.
Happy New Year! Yay for 2008!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

More Cute Pictures

Our little Audrey is getting so big.


Audrey and my youngest sister Amy. (Amy has mono and wasn't feeling too hot)


Hannah Kay


Hannah and Moses are buddies.




Friday, December 28, 2007

One of those days...

I woke up this morning to the sound of Hannah throwing up. No idea why she did that, and she hasn't done it again.

Yesterday was a crisis day. One of my brothers is going through some tough stuff and it's pretty hard on my family.

The Jetta won't start. It was -5 degrees this morning, so it might just be because of the cold...or maybe the battery is dead...or maybe something else. I could go out and try again since it is somewhat warmer now than it was a 6 this morning when Nick tried it, but I don't wanna. It's cold.

The cat is going nuts. He keeps attacking the girls all of a sudden. At this very moment, he is leaping three or four feet off the ground to get at the tree ornaments he "can't reach."

The house is a wreck - clean clothes, toys I have to clear out spaces for, and the cat threw litter all over the bathroom floor.

The girls cried until after 11pm last night. No idea why. Nick's theory was they could sense we were sad about my brother. But then they were up at 7:30. I'm tired.

The Christmas stuff we got, while very nice, has no place in our tiny house. I'm going to have to get rid of the old to make room for the new. This project feels daunting today, and there are piles everywhere that are driving me nuts.

On the other hand...

The girls are happily going down for naps right now, early, together.

I think I'll go take a shower and a nap!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Merry Christmas from us


You would not believe what it took to get this picture. Actually, if you have kids, you probably would believe it. Audrey is currently in full-blown toddler mode, including the arching of the back and the screaming, "WALK! WALK!" anytime we set foot out of the house. In this picture I am trying, (rather unsuccessfully, I might admit) to conceal my utter frustration and disgust with the situation, seeing as how the money, time and effort involved in making us all look like this at the same time ought to qualify us for some kind of award. The least we could do is be able to get a good picture of it to remember it by.
Alright. Enough ranting.
Hooray for the process, right? They won't be little for long...and all that jazz. ;)
I have lots of fun pictures to post in the next few days. For now: goodnight.
P.S. Audrey is holding a candle from the Christmas Eve service we had just attended.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Time

So here's the thing...

I really want to write a very profound blog about Christmas, full of encouragement and meaning, but I can't come up with anything.

The amazing thing about Christmas and all that it means, is that it is very simple - simple enough to explain to my 2 year old.

"God loves us so much that he sent baby Jesus to save us. Baby Jesus had a mommy and daddy, and there were animals and angels and kings, and that's why we have Christmas."

So simple, and yet so profound...

I've heard a few different Christmas messages this year. One of them camped out on the fact that God Came Down. That is indeed profound. However, I want to move beyond the facts of what happened, and find out what that means in my life. If it doesn't change something about my life, the fact that God did indeed come down seems somewhat empty.

I want God's obvious care for me to be evident to me and through me. To the point that I'm not fearful. To the point that I remember, and act like I'm a princess at all times, regardless of the situation. With all the authority and power that are mine as a child of God. With confidence, not in myself, but in Whose I am. With a willing heart to readily accept what God has asked of me.

This is Christmas to me, this year. To be able to look at the Christmas tree like I do every year, and wonder what the year will bring, and not be fearful but full of faith that God will provide everything we need. To enjoy the amazing family God has blessed me with, including the 1am nursings I still end up doing and probably will do with one kid or another for many years. To be maybe a little thicker-skinned this year and not worry quite so much what people think of me - to just seek God and do what I know is right (coming from that confidence in Whose I am). To pursue with everything I have, the things God has put in my heart, while not neglecting my first responsibility to my family.

So, that's what I've got. There's the joy, peace and love that I desire.

I gotta go hold my Hannah for a little while now.

Monday Highlights

1. We had a very Merry Christmas. I think the highlights were watching the living nativity with Hannah at the Christmas Eve service, (Never mind the wax dripped on Audrey's head and Hannah's finger at the candle-lighting) and seeing the girls' eyes on Christmas morning when they saw the tree with presents.

2. I hate the "now what do we do?" feeling after Christmas. After the frenzy of activity, quiet feels weird.

3. I stayed up late last night working on the computer, and it still isn't working. Very frustrating.

4. I did, however, get a new brilliant idea of how to make millions of dollars. Ha. At least it wasn't wholly unproductive.

5. Waaaay too much junk food and candy the past few days. SO not worth it. Yuck.

6. Among the present highlights: Hannah got a tricycle, Audrey got a vacuum cleaner (she's absolutely fascinated), I got a stock pot big enough to make soup in (yay!), Nick got a Risk game (who's going to play with him, I wonder?), and Moses the cat got a ball-in-track cat toy with catnip that is making him go nuts.

7. Is it really Wednesday? Three day weeks are nice.

8. We are due for at least 5 inches of snow tonight, in addition to the 5-ish we got yesterday. We had a white Christmas. It sure is pretty, and it sure is cold. Nick said it was one degree outside on his way to work this morning. The Jetta wouldn't start. Hopefully that is only due to the cold.


Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

I've decided that it's my goal to make life feel like The Weepies sound.

Hope your Christmas is full of love, joy, and peace.

Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

More proof

Nick and I really are geeks. We've been watching The Next Great American Band religiously. Actually, we record it with the DVR, and therefore don't actually have to stay home on Friday night to catch it. Does this make us less geeky?

Anyway, the finale is tomorrow night, and our favorite guys are going to win...we hope. The Clark Brothers have blown us away. They were raised touring around with their evangelist father, playing gospel music. However, they really haven't said all that much about their faith - they've allowed the excellence of their music, and the Spirit that is there when they play to do the talking for them. They've reduced the music industry hardened judges to tears multiple times. Even the cynical one (why is there always a cynical judge?) told them, "When you guys play...I'm a believer."

I think what we've been so excited about is seeing a real, true portrayal of faith in Christ that we can be proud of. Not to mention they play incredible music. You should go watch their videos.

Can they do that?

This is bizarre.

Busy week

Not much time for blogging this week.

We were gone most of the day yesterday, having meetings for Maeve Designs, (which is actually Maeve Bridal now). We met with a woman who will probably do some seamstress work for us. Pretty exciting. She currently works doing alterations for a bridal shop, but said she would much rather work for us and will quit her other job when we have enough work. It was great that she seemed as excited about it as we are.

I made cookies last night. Chocolate Chocolate Chip and Spicy Ginger Cookies. The ginger cookies are still in the freezer because I haven't done dishes yet and therefore I don't have room to bake them yet, but the chocolate chip turned out PERFECT. I sweetened both with maple syrup so I had to make minor changes to the recipes to make the dough the right consistency. I also have to add an extra egg to make them work at our altitude of 7000 feet. I'm starting to learn which ingredients to play with though. Now, to avoid eating 10 cookies today...

We have a couple more Christmas presents to buy and then we're done. I bought Christmas cards, and then got bogged down in the process because I wanted to actually include a picture or a letter or something that meant something more than a plain, generically signed card. I have neither picture nor letter, so my cards are still sitting in a stack here, partially addressed. Oh well. At least I bought them at the dollar store. :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

It really is that simple

With all the different parenting opinions that you hear, read, and are told, it's really hard sometimes to discern what's actually important when raising kids. That's one reason I like to read the blogs of mothers of lotsa kids. The writer of this blog has 14 children. Maybe that's how she manages to boil successful Christian parenting down to 4 simple, yet profound elements. In any case, women who can manage their large families and maintain a sense of peace and order in their hearts are worthy of being emulated.

Freemind

Call me a geek (I might be one), but I love this program I found last night. It allows you to do mind-mapping on the computer, and save your thoughts. If you've never done mind-mapping, it's not as weird as it sounds.

Basically, you have a starting point in the middle, and all of your thoughts go on "branches." The branches have branches, and those branches can have branches, and before you know it, you have a "map" of everything you're thinking about. It's amazing how you can problem solve when you list out all the issues. For me, at the very end of the branch, the answer usually comes. On Freemind you can also label different branches with things like, "don't forget" or "Ok/not ok," which makes me laugh.

Maybe better than journaling...

Monday, December 17, 2007

In Christ Alone

A song from yesterday's church service. It was all I could do not openly weep. Come to my house; I'll play and sing it for you. :)

In Christ alone my hope is found; He is my light, my strength, my song
This cornerstone, this solid ground, Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace, Where fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My comforter, my all in all, Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, who took on flesh, Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness, Scorned by the ones he came to save
Till on that cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on him was laid, Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay, Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious day, up from the grave he rose again
And as He stands in victory, sin's curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine, bought with the precious blood of Christ

On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sifting sand,
All other ground is sifting sand

(This is my favorite verse)
No guilt in life, no fear in death this is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home, Here in the power of Christ, I stand.

-Stuart Townsend/Kingsway's Thankyou music

When we live without guilt or fear, it is a testimony of Christ's power in us.
Only by the grace of God.

Monday Highlights

1. Church yesterday. So good.

2. Interviewing seamstresses for Maeve this week. Crazy. I can't believe we're really doing this.

3. We have most of our shopping done. There are multiple toys hidden in my closet, and yesterday, just as we were ready to go out the door to church, Hannah discovered one and brought it into the Living Room saying, "Look what I found!" I re-hid it, she had a complete breakdown, we went to church, and she seems to have forgotten. "Look what I found!" As if I have Little People just waiting to be found in my closet. Hysterical.

4. I have quite possibly the biggest pile of clean laundry in recorded history mounded up on my couch, waiting to be folded. I don't wanna.

5. Nick and I watched Ocean's 13 this weekend. There's some language and one questionable situation where they show nothing, but it is really good. I've never known what to think of those movies where you're actually cheering for the guy who's stealing something, but the fascination with people who are good at things takes over, and it's really fun to watch them figure it out. Plus if you've seen the other two movies, the running jokes are hysterical. OK, done talking about that.

I can't think of anything else. One week till Christmas!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Things Santa Brings

According to 2 1/2 year old Hannah:

Horses, tricycles, and popcorn.

Look how cute!

In case you've ever swallowed hard at the $25 for Robeez. I may try this sometime.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Final thoughts for now

Thanks so much to all of you who have commented and/or emailed about the post on the shootings.

I feel like the first step to healing from something like this, is allow yourself to ask the questions. I don't believe that asking the questions expresses any doubt in God or in His ability whatsoever, but more looks forward to the answers He will provide.

In any case, like Jesica said, when you turn to God in trial, your faith only gets stronger. "Where else would we go? He has the words of eternal life."

Also, as strange as it seems, the terror of this event seems much less than it might have been had we not already suffered as a church. Like the questions are right around the corner instead of months away, if that makes sense. We've been tested already and proven faithful. We know there will be a day for a new "normal," one that's even better in some ways than the old normal.

It may be a while before I can again walk down the halls at New Life without a thought of fear, but I will not allow it to motivate my decisions or take up residence in my heart. Those are things and places for God alone.

Please continue to pray for New Life and YWAM and the families affected by the shootings.

Highlights

Since I missed these Monday, I figured I'd share.

1. Family meeting last night at church. It was really good to be there. The hardest part was just being in the building. There were police at all the entrances. Several elected officials spoke, encouraging the church to continue to be a great influence on the community, and expressing their condolences. Worship was amazing. Things I took away: "We are not governed by fear, but by faith" This is how we make our decisions. Fear may be there, but we don't act on it. We will overcome yet again.

2. Christmas Tea with the Mom's Group this morning. We had fun. There were 6 kids and 3 moms and that was plenty. It was good to be together.

3. I'm making wieners and beans for lunch for myself. Because the girls are asleep and I can.

4. Audrey has decided solid food is pretty cool all of a sudden. This has caused me to go into "my little baby has grown up" mode. She didn't even want to nurse before bed last night. Another reminder that just when you think that day will never come (whatever that day happens to be), suddenly it's here! Now, to keep myself convinced for a little while that it's not yet time for another baby...

5. 12 days to Christmas. I must admit here that we have basically no Christmas shopping done at all. Oh well. We'll get it done.

OK, I'm going to go veg for a little while.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Um...yum.

Gluten-free sugar cookies for Christmas. If that doesn't do it for ya, I made them sugar-free sugar cookies, by using 3/4 c maple syrup in place of the sugar, and skip the 3 T of milk. They look good, they smell good, they have gluten-free sprinkles on top, and they won't make anybody sick. Nice.

A Letter to a Mean Mommy

I love this. Apparently this was recently published by Homeschooling Today.

A Letter: To Whom It May Concern
by Kara Murphy

Dear Mean Mommy,

I am writing, once again, to protest your visit to our house yesterday. I would have thought that my last litany of complaints would have given you pause before you returned, but no. You seem to come and go at will. Well, I have had enough.

First, you never give me any warning that you are coming. If I knew you were coming, I would be able to prepare for you as I do all my other guests. Why must you always arrive when the house is in such disrepair? In general, we do a fair job of keeping things picked up, but without fail, when the house is at its messiest, you show up. Not only that, but you time your arrivals when I feel my worst. Your last visit was after a sleepless night with our newborn. Before that, it was during a stressful time when the bills were late. No one should feel free to visit at tax time, especially when I have put off important record-keeping until the last minute. I suppose you would not think twice of arriving at our door immediately after we have just had back-to-back company. These are not the times to make unannounced appearances at our house!

Even if we were aware of when you were coming, I would still not appreciate your attitude. Must you whisper those words to me all day long? You can’t do this. You are failing. Another woman would do a better job than you. What are you doing to your children? It isn’t enough that you pick on me, but must you also be so grumpy toward my children? All day long, you nag and complain about them. Do this. Do that. Hurry up. Get back to your work. You are a broken record and you need to be replaced! Don’t you realize that children are not finished products, yet? They are adults-in-training, but they’re not there yet. And must you be so impatient with them? Sometimes, you are like a steamroller, plowing through the house. I would hate to get in your way! You are running us all over.

But the worst of it is your appearance…you look so much like me, my children may not realize the difference between us. They might actually think that you are me! I have had to apologize repeatedly for your troublesome ways.

This is it. Your reign of terror must stop. Please leave and never return.

And should you be tempted to come back, just remember that I am onto your tricks. Your wiles will not fool me any longer. I am going to fight to keep you away. And I know the best way to do that, too.

God’s word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Him. —Psalm 119:11

First, I have determined in everything, to give thanks seeing that this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning me. (1 Thessalonians 5:18) I will rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4) for I am learning, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11, 13) When those doubts begin to creep in I will be confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in me will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)

If you could just stop blustering and ordering everyone around long enough you might see an eternal perspective. You would realize that there is so much more to life in Christ than the day-in-and-day-out ups and downs. Step back for a moment from the immediate stressors. Why, there isn’t a hair that falls from my head that the Father is unaware of. He cares for birds and flowers in the field. How much more does He care for me and my family? (Matthew 6:25ff) Not only that, but He is working every circumstance in my life for my good and for the good of my children who love Him. (Romans 8:28)
Since I know that I must be sober, to love my husband, to love my children (Titus 2:4), I will be gentle among my little flock, even as a nursing mother cherishes her children: So being affectionately desirous of them, I will be willing to have imparted unto them, not the gospel of God only, but also my own soul, because they are dear unto me…even when I must labor night and day. (1 Thessalonians 2:7-9a) And most of all I will remember that charity—an antiquated term for our word love—suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity—or love—never faileth. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

If I have to, I will get really radical. When you show up, I intend to meet you at the door intent on bodily harm. For I see who you really are. You are the old (wo)man that Scripture speaks of so clearly. But I know this, that my old woman is crucified with Christ, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth I should not serve sin. (Romans 6:6) I will likewise reckon myself to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So I will let not sin therefore reign in my mortal body, that I should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield my members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield myself unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and my members as instruments of righteousness unto God. (Romans 6:11-13) Because I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Prepared to do battle,
A Loving Mama

So...

I'm not sure what to say. My desire to blog has been completely gone these past couple of days. The story that has unfolded reminds me of a made-for-tv horror plot with a surprise "God" ending.

There was a young man who had been raised by Christian parents and homeschooled. He had always been a little different..couldn't quite fit in. At 19, he enrolled in a YWAM discipleship training school. He was asked to leave before he completed the 10 month program for, among other things, playing Marilyn Manson songs on talent night. He was unable to constructively express his embarrassment and hurt over that, and in the next 5 years he began hating Christians. He started reading things like the manifesto written by the Columbine killers. Their words echoed in his head to the point that he could recite them. He began entertaining thoughts of killing some of these Christians, for who he could never seem to be good enough. He was able to buy guns because he had no prior record. He knew, deep down, that his parents loved him and he had no desire to hurt them personally. Instead, he returned to YWAM. He shot a few people there and went home. Then he went online to talk about how much he hated Christians, meanwhile hatching a plan to create abject terror at a church he visited once with his parents - New Life. He hated them especially for what happened to their pastor a year ago. Who did they think they were?

He arrived at New Life right after the late service, when the campus was full of people. He dropped smoke bombs at the main exits so everyone would be afraid to go through them, and then went in the far back door to corner people in the almost-full building. After shooting five more people with an automatic rifle, he was taken down with a single handgun by a female undercover security guard who had been fired from a police force 10 years ago for lying under investigation. She had just finished three days of fasting and praying for guidance and was in constant communication with God during the event. He guided her. It could have been a complete massacre.

I have pieced this story together from the many, many reports I have heard and read over the past few days. Some of it was from reading between the lines, and is not necessarily fact. This version of the story keeps playing over and over in my head. There are so many questions...

-God's power and protection is so evident in the whole event. Why did He not keep the two girls from dying? He obviously could have.
-Matthew Murray's parents did everything right - everything they knew to do. What went wrong? Why is there no formula to raise Godly children?
-Could there be a demonic element to this kind of behavior?
-In spite of SO many reaching out to Murray, he refused and rejected all help. Why? What caused his heart to be so hard? How could one man's hatred run so deep?
-What plan does God have for the hero, Jeanne Assam? I'd say somewhere in here is the direction she was praying for. You can't miss it!
-How can we as Christians, help hearts to be mended when they've been broken by us? SO much is expected from Christians, and we're just people. We do stupid, insensitive stuff in spite of how much we don't want to.
-How do Jesus' predictions of persecution of Christians interpret these events? By definition, those girls were martyrs - killed for their beliefs.
-Where is the line between not allowing ourselves to be controlled by fear, and being wise about the world we live in? Starting house churches to avoid public churches would probably be giving in to fear, but I can't say it hasn't crossed my mind and been suggested by other people.
-How long is it okay to mourn, and when is it time to move on? I do not want to wallow in grief, neither do I want to short-circuit the grieving process or sound stupidly over-spiritual.

and maybe most of all...

-What in the world does God have in store for New Life? Have we been under some sort of satanic attack? If so, why? What is satan so afraid of? We should have been down, off the radar a year ago. How will God use this for good, because He promises He will?

No wonder I can't sleep tonight. I suppose many of those questions will be answered, but only with time.

In spite of the tone of this blog, I'm actually doing okay. I'm sad, for sure. But I'm also immensely grateful to God and to Jeanne Assam, for seeking God and therefore being where she was supposed to be. Our church is having to suffer for a man's sin yet again, but one woman's righteousness protected us from the full impact.

Here's my plea: seek God with your whole heart. He promises you'll find Him when you do that. We need Him to heal our land. HIS people have to seek Him, and then He promises He will heal. Righteousness acts as a shield. We may never know what our faithfulness to God guards against, both in our lives and in the lives of others we don't even know. Never give up.

Monday, December 10, 2007

One Story

Here is a description of the events yesterday, taken from a high school girl in the youth choir. She posted this on Myspace this morning. Her dad is a pastor in the Children's Ministry. I am still unclear about this "second shooter" who is supposedly in police custody. They haven't reported that yet, but as I have heard it several times, I don't doubt it.

"Here's my side of the story. Since I was by the police headquarters I heard all that they were talking about.

It was about 1:10. My mom and I were down at the Citadel mall. I was hanging out while my mom was working and talking to people. That was when I got a call from my sister. She started off joking that it sounded like someone was shooting, then she pauses and hurredly said that someone WAS shooting and she'd have to call me back later. *click. I wasn't sure if she was joking or not. Then my dad called about 5 min later and told me he was hiding under the desk in his office with Tami and Tim and a locked door. He told me not to call because they didn't want any phones going off. Shocked, I handed the phone to my mom and she heard the same thing. We both raced up to the church and parked in the overflow parking, right by where all the police were headquartering. On our way there we finally heard from my older brother who had been hiding in the parking lot. While we waited and prayed by HQ, bits and pieces of the story came to us.

Apparently one shooter dressed in a black trench coat came toward the church by the tent on the north side. He was shooting at people left and right. He came down the main hallway, through the foyer, past the bookstore and then back out the main entrance where he was shot by a church security guard. I'm not entirely certain where the other shooter was, I've heard reports that he went towards the WPC. The police caught that one guy, but he escaped and ran toward Black Forest where they caught him again and now have him in custody. The other shooter is dead. I know for sure of six people who were shot and three of those six are dead, including the one shooter.

My mom and I continued to wait as the police searched the building top to bottom, making sure of no explosives or other shooters hiding. It is still uncertain whether or not there were more than two shooters.

After the initial gunshots and after the police arrived, they began escorting the entire church to either the tent or the WPC. My dad, Tam and Tim went to the tent, while Matthew went to the WPC. The police got testimonials from anyone who knew anything. At that time we didn't know how many were shot or dead. So many different reports were flown about, but the police suspect that the shootings at NLC were connected to the ones in Arvada early that morning. Combined with the losses at Arvada, the toll is five dead and and least five wounded.

After the testamonials were taken, my mom and I were finally able to meet up with my Dad, Tami, and Tim. Matthew, however, got permission from the AFA to assist the police so he stayed a while longer. I am so incredibly thankful that my family are alright.

Please be praying for the family of the victims. The two church members who are dead were both from the same family and that is a hard loss."

Update

The names of the victims were released this morning. We didn't know the two teenage girls who died, or their Dad who is still in the hospital. We did know, (or at least know OF) the two who were injured. They're okay, it appears. It's tough, because our church is right off the interstate, and so high profile. It is going to take some time to feel safe again...anywhere. I'm so thankful that our church had a plan in place for something like this. I am also thankful for what seems like thousands of people who stayed home for no particular reason. The services were very empty, in spite of the fact that we had a famous guest speaker this week. I think God directed people to stay home. One family of my piano students is very close to Judy Purcell, who was shot in the shoulder. I talked to them this morning, and they had been at the hospital all night, praying for the girl who died there late last night.

Nick sent me this:
"Pastor Brady said the church is closed today for repairs. It sounds like there will be an extra service later this week. He is calling the security guard a hero. He said hundreds would have likely been killed if she hadn't acted as quickly as she did. He said she immediately ran towards the scene and confronted the gunman right after he entered the building. He said she attended the first service and then was stationed in the foyer for the second service. Pastor Brady said she normally is assigned to protect him. He said she has a law enforcement background. "

Sad days, as you can tell. I know God will work through this, especially after what we've been through, but it's still awfully hard to suffer for the sin of a man we don't even know - who had no connection whatsoever to our church.

A couple of personal prayer requests:
-Pray against the fear. Think of how we would feel leaving our kids in the nursery...like ever again.
-Pray for me as I lead my small group for young moms on Thursday. What do you say?
-Pray for protection and healing for the church as a whole.

Thanks, guys.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

New Life

We and my parents and siblings are safe. None of us actually went to
church today - my mom and I both, completely separately, didn't want
to go to church today, very unusual for us. We normally would have
been in the parking lot right at the time of the shooting. Thank God.
We have heard one woman, Judy Purcell, who helps run the High Country
Homeschool program there was hit, no word yet on her status. Please pray
for her and her husband and her 4 children. One daughter is a friend
of my sister's.

Thank you for your prayers. They're saying everyone is alive so far.
Praise God. The fear is tough though. Keep praying!

Friday, December 7, 2007

"Diseases"

Here's an interesting article about minor health problems being medicated and what the implications are. This is by Dr. Mercola, who I generally agree with, but who tends to have a "the sky is falling" attitude that plays on my fears. Everything in moderation. This particular article is a good one, I think.

Twinkle Twinkle LIttle Star

This is a favorite song of both of my girls. Lately, Hannah has started singing it to Audrey whenever Audrey gets upset while riding in the car. Since Audrey is not yet 20 pounds, her carseat is still rear-facing, so she gets upset rather often. Anyway, I thought you might enjoy a phonetic spelling of what Hannah actually sings. Note also that the intensity of the singing usually equals the intensity of the fit-throwing. :)

"Kinkle kinkle wittle staaw
Howeye wonda wha do awa
Upa dovda wowd so high
Lika diamond inda sky
Kinkle, kinkle wittle staaw
Howeye wonda wha do awa."

Or

"KINKLE KINKLE WITTLE STAAW..." If Audrey's REALLY upset. ;)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Oh, and another thing

If I know you in real life, (or if I don't and you'd like to exchange Christmas cards anyway-ha!), would you email me your address? sarakay@gmail.com

God's Purpose for Women

This post is concise, yet hard for me to read. I do think she left out a few things that are set up in Proverbs 31 - things like good business dealings, caring for the poor, being creative and industrious at home, etc.

But, she's right. Women were Not created with the purpose of outdoing men. I think sometimes what we are taught by our culture and society makes us angry when we read things like that. Somehow it doesn't seem fair. But, God created us, and He knows how we are designed to work. As we seek out His purpose and plan for our lives, I believe we will find contentedness and peace, even if we don't find food for our egos.

Plans vs. Surrender

Here's something I've been thinking about lately...

I've been reading The Saving Life of Christ by Major Ian Thomas. I'm too lazy to link to Amazon today. Go look it up if you want. :) The basic gist of the book is that we do too many things in our own strength - we even attempt to serve God in our own strength, so we burn out. He makes the case that the ability to inexhaustibly serve God comes only in surrendering ourselves to Him so completely, that it is Christ in us that does the work God has called us to do. He defends all of this marvelously with Scripture.

On the other hand, what about the gifts and talents and personalities God has given us? If they are gifts from God and we are sanctified by Christ, then they should be good gifts, useful for God's purposes. I've never been one who buys into the whole, "I'm a worm, there is nothing in me that is worth anything." Apart from Christ, that is true...completely true. However, if I am in Christ, I am a new creation, and therefore God doesn't see the worm...he sees me...redeemed by Christ's blood. So, following that line of reasoning, I should have something that I can contribute to the world, because God has given me things to contribute.

Do you see the difference in those two teachings? Maybe it's just two different ways of saying the same thing. Maybe both are true.

The place where this becomes applicable in my life, is in caring for my kids and my home. I can make my plan for the day, and FORCE it to happen, but you have probably also experienced what happens when you run your day that way: extreme burnout. But, I am an administrator by nature. What do administrators do? Administrate. So, why does it sometimes feel like that is constantly thwarted? On the other hand, I can say to God, "This day is Yours. Lead me where You want me to go." So, I start out with a great attitude, and then I get NOTHING done. I have no plan. I have no direction. I have no motivation.

I know the answer is somewhere in between these two things. God probably calls me to plan the day and then disregard the plan when something more important comes up. But that's the hard way to do it! I don't get the satisfaction of my plan, done my way, nor do I get to be lazy. :)

Thoughts?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Survival

I know I'm not alone in this: you know those days when you feel like if your children SURVIVE into adulthood, it'll be a miracle? I do so much to try to help them thrive, but sometimes just getting through the day with everyone's bodies intact is a feat. Tonight we went out to the car to run errands, and the neighbors' huge dogs went running out of the darkness, right at Hannah. I panicked, yelled, and picked Hannah up, which caused her for the next two hours to ask about the dogs and why mommy was scared and if they would bite her. Nice move, Sara.

Then, we got home and Hannah managed to pull the ENTIRE CHRISTMAS TREE on top of herself. She wasn't even phased. We've been after her all week about taking the ornaments off. She couldn't get one off, so she pulled harder. Really hard.

My goodness...

Restless today

Somebody give me something fun to do.

My house is relatively clean. It needs to be vacuumed and as always I have laundry to put away. Oh, and I need to sweep up the cat litter that the cat threw all over the floor for the 50th time. I don't feel like doing any of this.

My kids are taking turns napping (they each slept 3 hours yesterday. Audrey was 11-2 and Hannah was 2-5), so I can't go anywhere unless I want cranky kids all night. I can make them nap at the same time if I work hard enough, but they inevitably wake each other up, and then I have cranky kids anyway.

I could have taken the girls to church for childcare and done something on my own, except Audrey's cough probably would have made somebody mad at me, even though there's no way she's contagious.

I have boxes of Christmas lights stacked in my kitchen. They're driving me nuts.

This is one of those lack of motivation days...

Monday, December 3, 2007

On a lighter note...

I LOVE this blog right now. Yay for mindless, harmless fun.

Perspective

It is so easy to forget what a precious and short time we have with little kids. This post reduced me to tears and helped my attitude.

Monday Highlights

Good morning! Here are the highlights for the week:

1. The Christmas tree is up. We always do a real one. This year's model is a white fir.
I think it's a tad Charlie Brown-esque. It looks perfect in our little house. Every year I look forward to decorating the tree as a family, and so far it's just not all that fun. Nick and I ended up doing it after the girls went to bed because of the temper tantrums and arguments that are started as a result of actually putting the cute little ornaments on the tree. Has anyone else had this experience?

2. Going to my 16 year old sister Amy's choir concert tonight. Some friend of hers convinced her to try out for a higher level choir and she made it. She has a slightly less experienced choir director that has the tendency to make Nick and I cringe occasionally. Everything sounds the same. Beating time...beating time...beating time. It's not the kids, for sure. How come some people are able to pull beautiful music out of high schoolers, and others....can't? Amy always shines on stage though - she's beautiful.

These are long highlights today. Sorry.

3. Friday my piano students and I are going to play Christmas songs for a retirement home. My piano teacher when I was a little girl did all her recitals this way, and I loved it. Low pressure, performance experience, bringing joy to lonely older people. Good deal.

4. Audrey has a left-over cough that she's still working on. She has no other symptoms so I'm sure she's not contagious anymore, but she sounds awful. The other night it kept waking her up, so she ended up in bed with us. Audrey is not the most pleasant bed partner, in spite of how incredibly cuddly she is. She finally fell asleep with her head on my chest and her feet in Nick's face. After the rolling around like she did for an hour or two to get there, we didn't dare move her. Amazing how things like that would probably make me cry earlier in parenting. Now I can laugh at them...mostly.

5. Three weeks till Christmas!!! I have no shopping done. Like, at all.

Healthcare and the Government

This post has a rather interesting analysis of the problems with government-provided health care. As someone who has spent the better part of my life uninsured due to my dad and now my husband working for a small business, there is a certain allure to free healthcare. However, I had never thought about the natural results of that policy. Yuck. I think I'd rather pay out of pocket, and make payments until the end of time if one of us lands in the hospital, just like we had to for Hannah's birth and RSV stay. The cultural changes that might be involved with government healthcare do not outweigh the pain of a lack of insurance.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Santa Comes to Black Forest


Tonight we had one of my favorite experiences in a while.

*Truth in advertising statement: We tried to do too many things today. This led to cranky kids, rather burnt out parents, late dinner, and a few things I wish I could do over. It was not a perfect day, far from it. However, I don't feel like talking about that. And this is my blog. And you probably don't want to hear about that anyway. So I'm going to tell you this cute little story which was the best part of the day. Thank you.

About two minutes from where we live, is the center of the old "town." It has a fire station, a one room schoolhouse, a general store, a couple other small store buildings, a feed store, a church, and a community center. Most of these are actual log buildings, close to 100 years old. The community center actually hosts an "acoustic society" every other Friday night. People bring their banjos and things of that nature and they do a sing-along from what I can tell. We totally need to go sometime.

On the sign for the community center this week, it said, "Santa arrives, Dec. 1, 7pm." Well, a quaint little town gathering with Santa was right up my alley. We would have forgotten to go, except that we drove by there right at 6:50, heading to get our tree. We decided to stop.

A group of probably 150-200 people of all ages - babies to 90 year olds, waited in the center of town to light the Christmas tree. A choir of probably 10 people, complete with the warbly soprano, and the very low bass led us in Christmas carols. Their director was a fireball of a lady with white hair who was probably 75. The older couple who has the "keys to the forest" got to plug in the lights on the tree, and everyone "oohed and ahhed." Then, lights flashing, came the fire engine. Santa and Mrs. Claus were riding in the top, waving to everyone. They pulled into the community center and all the kids lined up to see them.

We reached the front of the line and Hannah buried her head in my shoulder when Santa talked to her. Mrs. Claus said, "Sometimes they'll come to me?" And Hannah gladly sat on her lap, and told her what she wanted for Christmas. A baby, she said. This is news to me. The whole time, the choir continued to sing carols. A guy with a banjo stood in the back and played occasionally. The director played a few chords at a time on the old upright piano, alternating with waving her arms to keep tempo. There were hot drinks and cookies, and the firefighters and paramedics hung around in the back, enjoying the festivities.

It was just the cutest thing. Like something from a movie. I could almost imagine being there when they did that long ago, for the children...who still come...70 years later.

So, Nick and I have decided that when we're 75 or 80 years old, he's going to grow a beard and we'll go around as Santa and Mrs. Claus. He likes to remind me that he is, after all, St. Nick. Oh, brother.

Republican Mental Health

My dad sent me this link this morning, and it made me laugh. Apparently, Republicans are significantly more likely to report being in excellent mental health, than Independents or Democrats. I don't know that it has that much to do with being a Republican, but probably more to do with the fact that more Christians tend to be Republicans and therefore a greater number of Republicans would have a relationship with God that would be a stabilizing factor in their lives.

Either way...oh, never mind. :)

Friday, November 30, 2007

And Furthermore!

It's too quiet today.

Myers--briggs test

I took two different tests for this today. Both seem pretty accurate in different settings. The only thing that occasionally keeps me from being these, is insecurity about being that way. Sometimes I get frustrated with my personality type, because it is so strong. I get afraid that I have a tendency to make certain people uncomfortable or offended. I have a hard time relaxing. I worry way too much. But, when I am in the right set of circumstances, I have a remarkable ability to bring order out of chaos. I find it fascinating to think about how each person's specific strengths fit into the world (or the church, or the family, or the marriage, or any number of other things) as a whole. How do you fit?

ENFJ - "Persuader". Outstanding leader of groups. Can be aggressive at helping others to be the best that they can be. 2.5% of total population.
Free Jung Personality Test (similar to Myers-Briggs/MBTI)


ESTJ - "Administrator". Much in touch with the external environment. Very responsible. Pillar of strength. 8.7% of total population.
Free Jung Word Test (similar to Myers-Briggs)
personality tests by similarminds.com


Just ask for help!

I make is a habit to skim Foxnews.com every day. I like to know the major things going on. This is not a fun story to read, so don't read it unless you have the stomach for it today. Basically a mother killed her two toddlers in a store bathroom.

My thought was, why did she let it get to that point? I know that feeling, that one where if one more person makes one more noise, I may just go over the edge. This woman may very well have been a single mother. Her two children may have, in her mind, "ruined" every opportunity she might have otherwise had. I have no doubt that her life was incredibly hard.

What makes me sad though, is that nobody saw this coming and reached out to her. We moms gotta stick together. If we're having a day like that, we have to CALL somebody. If we see someone in that mode, we have to offer to take the kids, or just offer a cup of tea and some encouragement. We have to take breaks for ourselves, so that when we're done taking that break, we can be better mothers. I don't know what this looks like for you. Maybe it means re-prioritizing the family budget so you can have your house cleaned once a month (I did this once. I felt like a queen!). Maybe it means trading childcare with a friend so you can go sit at Starbucks and read for a couple of hours. Maybe it means explaining to your husband your intense need for a break so he can watch kids for a while while you Christmas shop. Maybe rather than doing anything else, you would rather sit in the bathtub and stare at the wall for an hour.

No matter what sounds fun to you, we have to make sure we do this! This is not selfish, this is our lives and the lives of our kids we're talking about, or at the very least our quality of life. If you don't have kids, offering to care for a friends' kids so they can take a break is HUGE. If I am finding myself snapping about every little thing, and I can't answer questions kindly, it usually means I am overdue for a break. For me, it also usually means I haven't read my Bible in a couple days. Watching TV, although enticing to me, doesn't fill me back up. So if I need a break and I choose to do that, I can count on not being much better off after that kind of a break. Spending some time talking to God makes a difference.

Our society is so isolated, but we (especially as Christians!) don't have to be. People have said for decades, "It takes a village to raise a child." Why would we ever think we could possibly do it alone?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Welcome to Maeve Designs


At least, I think that's what we're calling it.

I've been wanting to tell you all about our rather ambitious undertaking. My sister Holly and I are starting a business that will make custom wedding gowns.

First, some background. Holly took two years of fashion design classes. Then she decided to make her own wedding gown. Like, out of silk. This was a long process. Through trial and error and pure determination, she came up with something incredibly gorgeous.

Fast-forward almost three years. A friend of hers asked her to make her a gown. Thus, the picture in this post. The idea came from a Marilyn Monroe dress. Her bridesmaids wore black, and it was an elegant outdoor fall wedding. Beautiful, isn't it?

So, about this time, my entrepreneur antenna went up. I always love having a project, and making money. Why not help my sister get this business off the ground?

Here we go. Website, business cards, sales procedures, seamstresses, fabric suppliers, marketing plans, financial plans, are all in the works. I'm having a blast, getting paid nothing for now. My mind has been somewhat consumed by thinking about the business and reading the e-myth for the past week.

I really feel that we are going to be able to produce beautiful work. Holly's attention to detail is impeccable, and the two dresses she has made thus far are breathtaking and completely different in every way. With our combination of skills, I think we may be able to take this idea very far.

So, if you know anyone who is engaged, let them know about us. If they would be willing to take a little survey, we will offer them some nifty free gift that we're still dreaming up. And we can design them their dream dress.

Are we nuts? Well, it's possible.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Monday Highlights

1. Nick had FOUR days off this weekend. Like, in a ROW. It was a beautiful thing.

2. I already talked about Thanksgiving dinner...but wow, was it yummy.

3. It is dreary and cold today. Can it be spring yet? I'm seriously ready already.

4. At the same time, um, it's December on Saturday. How did this happen?

I don't have much to say yet today. There's not much going on this week. Anybody else have any interesting highlights?

Good morning!

This post really spoke to me this morning, especially the end of it. (And by the way, the homeschooler in me LOVES this entire blog.) I do pursue excellence in my home, but I want it to give life to all who come in contact with me. My sincere hope is that my home can be a place of comfort, rest and encouragement to all who come here.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The E-Myth

I'm reading a book called The E-myth Revisited. My dad, the entrepreneur, insisted that if Holly and I were going to make wedding dresses, we had to read this book. Honestly, I've always been rather bored with business concepts. This book fascinates me. Part of it is that I grew up watching my dad work on his business. Part of it is that I would love to find a way to make the money I need to live the life that I dream of. Part of it is it's a really fascinating book. :)

For example this:

Have a vision for your life, and work on making up the difference between the vision and reality.

What do I wish my life to look like?
How do I wish my life to be on a day-to-day basis?
What would I like to truly know by the end of my life?
How would I like to be with people - family, friends, business associates?
How would I like people to think about me?
Where do I want to be two years from now? Ten years from now? Twenty years from now? At the end of my life?
What do I want to learn during my lifetime - spiritually, physically, financially, technically, intellectually, in relationships?
How much money do I need in order to do these things? By when do I need it?

How many people think about these kinds of things? Maybe if we all did, we could find that ever-elusive sense of daily purpose. A reason to bounce out of bed in the morning. Every day is a step toward what we want our life to become. I would take that a step farther: what does God want my life to become?

Pastor Ross preached today. He spoke about how during the tough times in life, during the times when you feel God is absent, those are the times to put your faith in Who you know God is, and worship anyway. From 2 Chron. 20 - "We don't know what to do, but our eyes are upon You." From that place of worship and surrender to God's plan, comes the next step. Usually all God lets us know is the next step toward what He has asked us to do. He doesn't tell us the end result. He doesn't explain the answer to questions like, "God, why did I do all that training for worship ministry when you have called me to stay home with my kids and maybe also be a businesswoman?" All He gives is the next step. And, mixed with faith, that is enough to give immense peace to our lives.

I encourage you all to prayerfully consider that list of questions. Where is God leading your life? As we work out the answers to those questions, we can begin to really live. I feel that this is the key to thriving, rather than just surviving. A sense of direction and purpose can make all the difference - to a business, but more importantly to a life!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving Dinner

Dinner was a smashing success, I must say. I should have followed my instinct and turned the heat up on the sweet potatoes so they were a little softer, and it was difficult to have everything more than just lukewarm by the time it was on the table, but it was....delicious. And completely gluten-free!

Turkey, gluten-free bread stuffing with dried cranberries and water chestnuts, fresh cranberry sauce, green beans with sauteed almonds, maple-orange mashed sweet potatoes, and gravy with thyme and thickened with rice flour. Not pictured here was another dish - maple thyme acorn squash.

The most amazing thing about all of this is, Nick and I keep saying how we can eat a ridiculously full plate and we don't feel sick! Thanksgiving is a day to be sick, right? I mean, what's Thanksgiving without feeling bloated and gross and almost achy afterward? You can make delicious food that is good for you!

Anyway, if there are certain recipes you're interested in, let me know. I almost always find things online and then adapt them.

Hope you all had a great dinner, and great time together as a family!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people.

I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.

And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore if, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purpose, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.

Abraham Lincoln, 1863

Quiet day


I suppose it's the calm before the proverbial storm, but today is a quiet day. There are tiny snow crystals falling silently out my picture window. All my usual blogs to read are relatively quiet with holiday preparations. I need to do dishes, bake, clean my kitchen, and vacuum today. The three inches of snow and my Jetta's older tires will probably deter me from coming up with an excuse to leave the house. I'm beginning to really value this kind of peace. The girls thrive on it, when I keep my tone and attitude positive. They get nice, long naps and lots of personal attention on days like this.

Tomorrow we get to enjoy the bustle of my parents' house and cooking with my mom and sisters. The boys will either play guitar hero or go out to shoot air soft guns, or both (these are "brother activities" that Nick finally gets to participate in, since he doesn't have any brothers), the girls will run around eating, chasing dogs and cats, watching Pooh, and generally getting underfoot.

Friday I'm making dinner here, and it looks like Luis and Elya will be joining us. Luis was the best man in our wedding, and Luis and Elya are engaged to be married 08.08.08. :) Elya is early in the Dr P diet, and a diagnosed celiac, so I am happy to provide a place where she can safely eat Thanksgiving dinner.

Saturday and Sunday we get two more days to be together as a family! The girls are pretty much well, so church might actually happen this week.

Off to go start my day. Peace and thankfulness...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving

A lot of people hate it. It's one of my favorites.

I think I like it so much because it's simple. Eat food, be together with people you love, be thankful. No presents, no deep spiritual meaning that you feel like you somehow miss in the trappings of the celebration, just be thankful.

I have much to be thankful this year, as always.
A husband who loves me and who I love
Two beautiful, healthy little girls
A cat named Moses
A house to live in
Two (at least somewhat) working cars
A church that has weathered the storm and come out worshiping God more than ever
Good relationships with extended family

Lately, I've even begun to appreciate getting older as a gift. I love that I'm learning to be comfortable in my own skin. I have spent much of my life apologizing for the person that I am, and just this year I am beginning to see the person God made me to be. Obviously, there are many more years for God to develop that, but I can see the beginnings, now that I'm 27 years old. I can finally actually call myself a grownup. This is okay with me.

Anyway, I plan to thoroughly enjoy cooking and baking the next few days. No stress, just enjoying making a fun, delicious, thankful experience for my family.

Thanksgiving

The Gluten-Free Girl has once again written a beautiful, helpful Thanksgiving blog. I love her attitude toward having to be gluten free. Rather than seeing it as deprivation, she is grateful to be well, and she does gluten free in such a delicious way that no one will miss the gluten.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Monday Highlights

1. It's Thanksgiving week. Yay! I think Thanksgiving may be my favorite holiday.
2. Between students out of town, school of worship being done, and Nick getting two days off, this week feels very relaxing.
3. Noses have quit running around here. Now we're just working on those leftover coughs. I'm fairly sure we had the flu, so that's over. Nice.
4. I'm currently reading The Saving Life of Christ by Major Ian Thomas. For me, this book is life-changing. Expect posts on it someday. I have to digest it first and not preach about it yet. :)
5. The mannequin head across the street at the neighbor's house has been taken down. I know this is not that important, but it makes me happy anyway.
6. Nick and I stayed up late watching Shrek the Third last night. I don't know why. But it was fun to be together and do something mindless.
7. My sister Holly and I are working on our business. We're doing custom wedding dresses, if you know anyone who needs one. Holly is a fantastic designer, and I am handling the business aspects. I will probably post a full blog about this soon.
8. I get to make a full Thanksgiving dinner just for us. We're going to my parents' on Thursday, but I'm going to make dinner at our house on Friday. I'm really looking forward to it. Turkey, gluten-free stuffing (haven't decided if I will do brown and wild rice, or gluten free bread), mashed sweet potatoes, green beans, fresh cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie with pecan crust (I'm not doing it from scratch like this recipe. A can of pumpkin is good enough for me), rolls from Outside the Bread Box, and probably one or two other things I will get inspiration for this week. Cooking is a creative outlet for me - a much needed one!

OK, this is long enough. Lots of fun stuff going on! What are your highlights this week?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Chicken Soup

I thought of something constructive to say...

When I was probably...8? My mom got very sick for what seemed like weeks. I don't remember what was wrong with her, as childhood tends to keep you from understanding things like that. However, I do remember an older lady in the church bringing us a huge pot of this soup. Ever since then, it has been a staple food in our household. When I was in labor with Audrey, this was the only thing I wanted. I actually made several batches while I was waiting those last few weeks, because I wanted to make sure I had it on hand for blood sugar issues during labor.

Dr P tells us every time we are sick, to eat nothing but chicken soup. Although I'm not a very good patient as far as eating ONLY this, I do love to make a batch to help with colds, etc.
So, without further adieu...


Bonnie Leese's Chicken and Rice Soup

8c. water
1-2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts

Cook chicken in water over medium low heat until done, 30-45 minutes. (The water should steam, but not boil here. Too much heat makes the chicken tough.)

Add to pot:
2-3 stalks celery
3-4 carrots
1/4 of a bell pepper
1/4 of an onion
pinch of garlic (I always use lots more. Fresh garlic would be good too.)

Boil until tender. (I always pull out the chicken and shred/cut it into chunks at this point. Or you can just leave it and it will fall apart somewhat on its own.)

Then add:
Salt and pepper to taste
One large can stewed tomatoes (juice and all)
1 cup ALREADY COOKED brown rice

Obviously, this is one of those recipes that she probably had to think about in order to write down. It is Extremely customizable. I have always wanted to try it in the crock pot, but haven't been brave enough. I'm not a huge fan of the stewed tomatoes, but without them the soup is a little boring. I have used diced tomatoes instead, and then the pieces of them are smaller...somewhat helpful. If you are a cheese person, top with shredded cheese, although that adds to mucus issues if you're eating this to get well. :)

Let me know if you try it - enjoy!

I'm back

You probably weren't aware that I was gone, but I've been wrestling all week with a computer that would not work right, in spite of my attempts at cleaning it up. Last night, Nick realized his desktop from college had a comparable amount of space, and all it needed was windows XP, which the broken laptop had. So, several hours of installation later, here I am, on a computer that actually works. Nifty. "New" computer. For free. Doesn't look quite as sophisticated, but if it's functional and free, we'll work with it.

Things have been kind of three steps forward, two steps back around here, so I haven't really had much to say anyway.

It reminds me a little of what I was talking about last week, actually. Sometimes you gotta throw your entire agenda out the window and sit and read books on the couch. Or watch kids' movies all day. Or get in the car and drive until everybody feels better...or at least falls asleep.

I think we tend to pity each other when life is like this, because we feel terribly guilty about it when our own lives look like this. In reality, sometimes life is survival. Sometimes it's hanging on to each other because you are committed to each other. Sometimes you take a step back and realize that some of the "stuff" that's been occupying your thoughts and energy isn't worth what you've put into it, and there is some course correction to be done.

I know I'm being somewhat cryptic. I don't expect you have any idea what I'm talking about. I guess the bottom line of what I'm trying to communicate is this: families are about sticking together - through good times, crisis times, and times when things are in-between (I think the in-between times are the hardest). So, we stick together, stay on the same team, go to bed early, and hope tomorrow will be more fun.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

At least I'm not over anybody's head...

cash advance


Oh joy, oh rapture!

Audrey's nose is not running today. I had just about given up hope that it would ever stop again.

We have been running the air purifier for two days now, and apparently it's working. I never would have guessed that this house would make my kids sick. Yuck.

I suppose maybe they haven't been contagious all this time, but for 2 1/2 months, I have felt guilty taking them anywhere. It feels like a weight has been taken off my shoulders, when I think about being able to take them to Sunday School at church again, and have people over again, and leave them with babysitters for date night again. Dr P saves the day one more time. I only wish somebody had thought of this sooner.

And according to Dr P (and Marianne!), we should not get sick if we're not eating sugar. He actually said even little kids should not get sick more than once a YEAR for 3-7 days. Think about that. That provides enough motivation for me to give up sugar. Nothing else ever has, even though I know exactly how bad it is.

OK, I'm done now.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Things have been a little intense around here.

It all started several weeks ago, when Nick hurt his back throwing a football. It hurt worse and worse until it was shooting pain down his legs and I talked him into going to the chiropractor. They, of course, said he had a herniated disc, and to come back three times a week for the rest of his life, pretty much. Well, we're talking about $500 there, so we called Dr P, the naturopath, who is also a chiropractor. He uses the best parts of nutrition, chiro, acupuncture, herbs, with a pretty great sermon occasionally thrown in. Plus, he's a Christian so I don't have to worry about him getting spiritually weird.

Anyway, he gave Nick an adjustment, said his back probably went out related to the stress involved with moving, and then did some electric stimulation of his back muscles to help relax them and "reprogram" them to do what they're supposed to. "Don't do much for the next three days, and don't pick up the girls." Those were the orders.

While we were there, Hannah coughed, and he said, "that doesn't sound very good." I proceeded to talk to him about how the girls have been sick for two months, and his assessment was there's something in the new house that's bothering them.

Get an air purifier.
Aren't those like $400?
For the whole house they are, get a little one, keep it in their room at night and move it out during the day. And quit eating sugar.

Grrr...

That was Thursday night. Friday I started feeling pretty bad. By Friday night I had a fever of 101, and a headache so bad I couldn't get up. I told this part of the story already, except that Nick re-injured his back because he had no choice but to pick up the girls all day when I couldn't get out of bed Saturday.

Sunday and Monday, I was better but still coughing a ton, and the girls were coughing and had runny noses. I called my mom during the day yesterday and told her what Dr P said about the purifier, and she said, "I thought of that in the middle of the night and forgot to tell you!" Last night we carved money out of the budget for a small air purifier. Then we got home and Nick had fever. That was about all I could take. To my credit, instead of having a complete breakdown, I went to bed.

Nick is at work today, and doesn't feel too bad. Still too early to tell if the purifier is helping, but I have hope that it will since Dr P has rarely steered us wrong. But the girls and I are still fairly miserable, and Audrey is constipated today on top of it, if you want to know the truth. I gotta say, I'm pretty tired.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Monday Highlights

1. I spent the weekend being sick. Lame. Currently I feel okay, but my voice is lower than my husband's and I have an earth shattering cough. I had fever and an intense headache for about 24 hours so I was in bed literally all day Saturday.

2. My amazing husband took care of everything and everybody. The house stayed relatively clean, the girls were happy and busy, he cooked for all of us, and brought me everything I needed. It was amazing.

3. I suppose I'll get a sick day from teaching today, which is nice from a rest standpoint, but not so nice from a money standpoint.

4. We're supposed to get snow flurries today. I kinda hope we do. The weather has been beautiful - so beautiful that I can not believe it is almost Thanksgiving.

5. I got great deals on two new shirts and a pair of casual boots yesterday. So fun. I love new clothes.

6. In spite of being sick, we had a blast as a family this weekend. We laughed and smiled a lot. The credit goes largely to Nick, for working so hard and having such a great attitude. Thanks, honey.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Games for 2 year olds

I came across this link tonight, so we decided to try teaching Ring around the rosy to Hannah. It was hysterical! Thought I'd share a video. This is another link with fun things to do. We laughed and smiled together a whole lot tonight. :)

The first of many kitty posts


Moses the kitty discovered the laundry basket.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Learning to Rest

Today is a relatively uneventful day.

Kids woke up coughing so we canceled the small group for today.
Making chicken in the crockpot.
Have to grocery shop and take Holly's phone back to her, since she left it in my car when we went to the ranch yesterday. (The ranch was a great time, by the way. Fun was had by all. :)
Right now, Audrey is napping and Hannah is watching Tigger and Pooh on TV.

I used to be terrified of days like this. The quiet frightened me. I don't think I knew how to rest. Even now, as I enjoy the smell of chicken cooking, and the sound of quiet children, and seeing the kitty laying in the sunshine spilling in through our picture window, it's hard to keep my thoughts away from boredom or even a little sadness.

I could ruin a perfectly great day that way.

We've had a nonstop week - piano lessons and the ranch most of the day yesterday. We need a day to rest and regroup. Most of the time when I feel overwhelmed, I'm really just too tired - I'm pushing myself harder than I need to.

It is hard for a high achiever personality like mine to realize it's okay to sometimes just BE. But, I am learning that to keep my cup full - in order to have something to give to other people, that's exactly what I need to do.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Check!

*This is a post I started a few weeks ago and just finished. :)

So, my grandparents came into town last night. Since my Grampa isn't one to sit around, he volunteered himself (and my brother Nathan) to come over and work on projects around here all afternoon. Oh, my goodness. I cannot imagine how long it would have taken us to get all these things done. In addition, (while he was replacing light bulbs in the Jetta) he noticed the oil was very low, almost empty. Who knows what sort of car catastrophe we just avoided?

I feel like a miracle just happened in our lives. God answered our prayers and kept us safe and cared for, in ways we didn't expect.

Maybe I see it this way because of something I read in my Bible time this week.
In Deuteronomy 29, Moses is talking to the Israelites about their journey to the promised land.

"Your eyes have seen all that the Lord did in Egypt to Pharoah, to all his officials and to all his land. With your own eyes you saw those great trials, those miraculous signs and great wonders. But to this day the Lord has not given you a mind that understands or eyes that see or ears that hear. During the forty years that I led you through the desert, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet. You ate no bread and drank no wine or other fermented drink. I did this so that you might know that I am the Lord your God."

They had just lived through some of the greatest miracles of all time, and they didn't even see them! You'd think at some point they would notice these things. But, how often do I go through life and not see the blessings all around me?

I have become convinced that the only way to survive good times in our lives is to be thankful people. By that I mean, when things are good, we tend to start to take the credit. I know I can get prideful and feel that I have had something to do with the good things in my life. It's easy to pull away from God until I "need" Him again. At that point, I crash and burn and start the process again. :) But, what if we could remain dependent on God, and thankful even through the good times? To surrender to God not only the things we can't control, but even the things we think we can! Talk about living God's will for our lives!

We've all heard the "attitude of gratitude" pithy sayings. I hate those. But, I'm talking about seeing everything in my life as a blessing. The turquoise Jeep with the cracked windshield we bought from my sister and her husband because we couldn't afford anything else? Well, it got us safely to church and back, down our little dirt road in 6 or 7 inches of snow today. This rather run-down house in the woods that we "happened across"? I feel like a queen in a castle with the snow outside, the candles burning, and a fresh carrot cake baking in the oven. My little girls are a ton of work, but today both of them said "I love you" to me, without being prompted, for the first time. Yes I know, Audrey is copying Hannah, but I don't care. Hannah saying that to me and then laying her head on my shoulder was the best gift I've had in years.

As easy as it is to be discontent (I know LOTS of discontent people, and struggle with it myself), we all need to be praying for "a mind that understands or eyes that see or ears that hear" the miracles that God is working in our lives. God answers prayers like that. As I have begun to pray this, I feel more content than I have in years.

Maybe as recently as a few months ago, I always felt that God was out to get me somehow. Maybe He was waiting to make my life really hard because it was "good for me." I doubted His heart toward me - doubted that He really wanted the best for me. The thing is, He says He wants the best for me, that He has a hope and a future for me. If He says that, then I can take my wandering thoughts and emotions and set them on that truth, trusting the truth over feelings. That kind of trust allows me to be truly thankful and content, without fear of the future.

It's a process, but this is what I'm learning right now...

Monday, November 5, 2007

Christina's blog

I decided to embarrass Christina, and talk about her new blog.

She and I have been friends for almost 10 years now (can you believe that?)

We first met when she and I worked in our church office together. I was the secretary for the worship ministry and she was the secretary for the women's ministry. I remember doing WAY too much chatting in each other's offices, and sitting through incredibly boring weekly staff meetings. Then, we ended up in the same circle of friends (actually, they took me in - I was the baby of the group, by multiple years. Didn't I annoy you guys?) That's when she and her husband Chris met. Then, later on, we worked in another office together, a staffing agency. We would make trips to Chipotle for the entire office, and eat entire huge burritos just for the comfort of it (I was 20 pounds heavier that year than I am now, for a reason!). We had a habit of emailing each other back and forth (while we were both there in the office working), coming up with a "black" name to put in the subject line of each one (remember that, Shaniqua Latisha?) I don't know why we did this.

Anyway, she and Chris got married and moved to where his family business is, far away from here, and we continue to keep in touch, entirely through email. In fact, I don't think we've ever talked on the phone since they moved. Weird. Now they have two beautiful little boys who look exactly like she and Chris, and Christina has lots of hysterical stories about trying to keep up with them.

Christina and I have been through thick and thin together. Boys (men?), jobs, kids, work... We have played hard ball on occasion, but we're good at that. :) So, enjoy her new blog.

Monday Highlights

Let's see... What's going on this week?

1. I DRAGGED myself to a leadership meeting at church that I was supposed to go to yesterday. I did not want to go, at all. Nick and the girls went out to lunch with my family while I did it. But, I got some fantastic new ideas and inspiration about leading my small group. Yay for messages that are just what you need.

2. The kitty slept at the foot of our bed last night. I always had a kitty sleeping at the foot of my bed, growing up. It was fun.

3. If all goes well, we get to make a trip to Starry Sky Ranch on Wednesday. Can't wait!

4. Um, it's 3 1/2 weeks to Thanksgiving???!!!!???

5. Hannah had a gluten issue this weekend, after a helper in her childcare during choir rehearsal gave her 3 or 4 crackers. I don't think she's had that much gluten in more than a year. Wow, lots of temper tantrums and tears. I am forever grateful that we found out what the real problem was early on. I understand why parents would look for a behavioral diagnosis for kids that just really have a food allergy or something similar. For example, there seems to be some link between autism and gluten. "Autistic" kids put on a gluten free diet often improve by leaps and bounds. Makes me wonder if the gluten is the only real problem. As much as it affects Hannah, I can see how it would be very difficult for those kids to learn at the same rate as their peers. But, that was a tangent, not so much a highlight. Oh well.

What are your highlights for the week?

A year ago

One year ago, our pastor made national news when his darkest secrets were exposed to the world. We were all completely shocked, and the grief and hurt caused by his lies was intense. But that was a year ago.

Yesterday, the building was full of people worshiping and looking to God. Our new pastor, fittingly, spoke on "divorce proofing your marriage." Healing has already taken place that some churches in similar circumstances never see - even a decade later. I am so grateful for the faithfulness of the people at our church. I am so grateful for a man of God who is full of grace and love for people, to lead the church. Mostly, I am grateful for what God is doing there. There's no place I would rather be!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Pooh and Tigger

























Here's the girls in their costumes.
I gave Audrey some whiskers, and Hannah insisted she needed some too. :) They had so much fun.

Meet the kitty



Here's our newest member of the family. We got him yesterday, and as yet have not decided on a name. Isn't he sweet? He's about 10 weeks.

He is very tame - he will lay on his back and let you rub his tummy. He purrs all the time. While Hannah was holding him this morning, she picked him up by his legs and he didn't even flinch. Ahem...we're working on kitty manners.





So, the girls love him and he seems to like them pretty well also. I wondered aloud if I was nuts for adding something else to take care of, and Nick said, "I'm surprised you've gone this long without a pet."

We're taking turns holding him and dangling a little fish toy. He races up and down the back of the couch to catch it.