Saturday, November 24, 2007

Home Sweet Home

We're back. Branson was fun, but we are happy to be home, sweet, home.

Let's see.....
On Wednesday, it took us an hour and a half to travel 13 miles around Little Rock. Barely Fun. Then the Johnsons slept in my grandparents' vacant townhouse next door to Mom. Huge Fun.

On Thursday, we ate with my grandparents and aunt and uncle and mom and a couple brothers and a sister-in-law. It was very, very nice. We enjoyed "togetherness" around my mom's new table. The kids were at the bar, and James was in a kiddie chair...all was well. Turkey, veggies, crescent rolls, tabooli, cranberry salad, pumpkin dessert, and chocolate yummy. Yee-ha!

On Friday, we awoke to 19 degree sunshine and we worked together to get my grandparents moved into their new digs. Halfway through the move, the guys were tossing the football in the road. Landen caught the ball, but landed on the curb....knee first. 3 hours and 9 stitches later, he was watching football on tv while we finished the move. Poor guy. While the others were at the emergency room, Luke was able to get some great photos of some deer in the woods behind Mom's house. The girls watched Disney channel way too much, but I think we all needed a break from our regular one hour of PBS per day routine. We got Papa and Grandma settled before the day was through, and bedtime brought "togetherness" to an all new level since they had instant house guests...lots and lots of Johnsons. Philip and I have decided that if --in order to live to be 85, you have to keep the thermostat on 85--we'll never make it. :) Papa and Grandma were so sweet to let us invade their space. The kids thought it was loads of great fun. They loved seeing Grammy and hanging out with Josh/Kathy. Grammy even painted the girls' nails....very thrilling. Oh, one knows how she spent her time, because nobody ever knew where she was. She enjoyed the fellowship and laughter but made a run for it every time the door opened. (And when folks are unloading a household, the door opens a lot!) If I had a quarter for each time I asked/heard: "Who sees Mari?"....

This morning we got up and packed up and loaded up and headed out....but not before a wild boar (Philip says it was "just" a pot-bellied pig) tried to enter Mom's home through the garage. Cameras started flashing while James and Luke made a new friend. Eventually, we were on the road. Since Landen needed to keep his bandaged leg outstretched, he rode in James' backseat on the way home. Luke went along for conversation maintenance. Philip and I enjoyed all but the first and last hour of our ride with the girls. (crying, cramping, sobbing, puking, and more crying were the opening/closing backdrops for our drive) The sleeping, smiling, reading, listening, sleeping part in the middle was great!

I'm thankful for my Mom and Grandparents. Their hospitality is a blessing.
I'm thankful for tabooli. (Mom has the recipe)
I'm thankful for my AWESOME 1992 Suburban. It did great....thanks to everyone who prayed her through the Ozarks.
I'm thankful for my very fun family who make road trips relaxing (for the most part).
I'm thankful that "Mary Poppins" is available on CD....positively grateful, indeed.
I'm thankful that my home was neat and tidy when we walked in....that's just good for the soul.
I'm thankful that my family will help me clean up that mess we brought in with us sometime soon....surely.
I'm thankful to God for being so faithful, so loving, so protective, and so generous.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

All Aboard

5 books on CD
39 gallons of gas
1 playpen
7 coats, 12 gloves, & 2 mittens
56 socks of all sizes
25 diapers
2 dozen changes of clothes
3 loaves of pumpkin bread
1 happy family headin' north for holiday!

Happy Thanksgiving Everybody!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Rest Stops

I've been frustrated for weeks... years really, that Sundays "never go right". They're always stressful. When will I get a break? Consequently, I have been reading a book entitled "The REST of God" by Mark Buchanan. It has challenged my thoughts and actions toward Sabbath...not just a day, but an attitude. While preparing a Bible Study on manna, I realized I was totally missing "it". I knew the story of the children of Israel griping in the dessert. I knew the structure of the manna provision: little heavenly frosted flakes would be available each morning like dew. But as the sun dries the dew, the manna would disappear in the first warmth of sunshine. The manna lasted one day. No hoarding. No planning ahead. No leftovers. But I still missed it.

Exodus 16:4-5 "Then the lord said to Moses, 'I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days."

In my constant quest for supreme rest, I realized that I don't do Sabbath right because I don't do my other six days right...on two levels: spiritually and physically. Spiritually, God did all this to teach the Israelites that "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." (Deuteronomy 8) So there is a picture for me to live out where I go daily, probably in the morning, and gather the words God would have me live by. Six mornings of gathering. Sabbath is an overflow day. Our day of corporate worship should not be the ONE time I try to gather truth to sustain me. Then, even if I'm convicted on Sunday, and repent and rise early on Monday to taste and see that the Lord is good, it's only meant for that day. By Tuesday it will be stale with maggots.....(I don't make this stuff up). So I pray I would discipline myself to receive daily bread.

Then in the physical sense. God set the example of working six days and resting on the seventh. It recently occurred to me that I tend to start grabbing "down-time" on Friday night and Saturday because I'm so scared that there won't be any rest on Sunday. Culture? And in the end, there is always work to be done on Sunday. So I tried a different approach this week. I worked each day...Monday through Saturday...dawn to dusk. On Saturday I ran some errands and shopped by myself during the afternoon and then came home and purposefully attempted to finish the week able to say "every thing is good". I worked my little capunkus off. I sweat, and I huffed, and I ached, and I sweat. (It was 85 and muggy here yesterday) When I went to bed (and as Tim would say "began my day") my heart and mind were set on things above, my house was clean, clothes were laid out, food was prepared, and all my responsibilities for church were solidified. I rested well. And today was restful. The morning was busy, but I had a different attitude. This afternoon I fought the urge to get a jump on laundry duties for tomorrow. I fought the urge to do anything but rest. I finally put productivity on the back burner for ONE day. Whoopie! I feel like a struggling, stubborn child, to whom God asks, "How long will you refuse to keep my commands and my instructions?" (Ex 16:28) To quote my father-in-law: "The Good Lord ain't a stupid man".

Philip has been so busy working two jobs with little bouts of hunting and football, then trying to keep healthy relationships afloat, that I think he's wading through his own journey of learning Sabbath Rest. We talked tonight for a long while. We're strained. I think we miss our old lifestyle....our silent slavery where we were blinded to our financial bondage, but we hung out together all the time and shared our oblivion gaily. Our eyes are opened now, there is freedom of knowledge and will, but we seem to be shackled in this debtors' prison across the cell from one another. We want the freedom that God is providing through grace and obedience, and we don't want to go back to "Egypt". It's just hard. It was more fun --foolish fun -- we would be fools to go back. God wants his children to rest in Him and remember all that He has freed us from. We need a break from our work, or our work will lead us right back to where we don't want to be. It's late, and this is making more sense in my heart than it is on the screen. Good thing a new day is dawning. Perhaps we'll take another run at it another day.

As far as this week, everyone is completely looking forward to getting away for a few days and enjoying the holidays with my extended family. I pray the Lord will continue to teach us His ways and give us strength to walk in them....DAILY. And as we pass the signs for "Rest Stop" and have to explain to the kids that "back in the olden day..." we'll be quick to thank the Lord for His goodness and mercy...and His rest.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Cool and Delicious

I was making my grocery list this morning and came across this recipe. Back in August my friend, Jessica, inspired me to cook a turkey with all the fixin's. Because it was still 1oo degrees outside, this cranberry dish caught my eye. I made this treat for the first time then, and it was a refreshing hit. So, before you head to the store for next week, I thought you might want to consider adding it to the menu.

Frozen Cranberry Sauce

6 oz cream cheese
2 T. Mayo
2 T. sugar
1 (16oz) can of whole cranberry sauce
1 (9oz) can crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 cup cool whip

Soften cream cheese and blend in mayo and sugar. Add fruits and nuts. Fold in cool whip. Pour in loaf or bundt pan and freeze 6 hours. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

**I lined my loaf pans with a long piece of saran wrap so after it thawed a bit, I pulled on the wrap and lifted the "brick" right out of there! I used "lite" ingredients and it worked fine. I prefer to thaw it enough to get it out, then slice it and place around a platter. Cover and pop in the freezer until time to serve. My kitchen is a zoo in those last few minutes before dinner, so whatever can be done ahead gets done ahead.


Thursday, November 15, 2007


Procrastinated Too Long.
I've been avoiding blogging because I feel like I simultaneously have too much and yet not enough to write. My thoughts are fully flowing but with no striking theme or direction. I've been blessed in so many ways over the last few days, I'm overwhelmed. I haven't earned any of it. I'm humbled. In a warped way, I might feel better if I had earned it, but I haven't, God is just plain ol' GOOD.
God has answered my prayers-just straight up, straight away, answered 'em. He has given good gifts--several really good gifts. He has healed diseases and forgiven sin. He has blessed me with friendship--fun, honest, encouraging friends. And my beautiful, precious children; my tall, dark, and handsome brother who is just a kick to have around; and a hardworking, fun-loving, eye-twinkling husband/friend who loves me so well.. Ok, now that I've listed it out....I guess I could have never earned any of that. Too bad, girl scout.
Praise The Lord.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Probably Not

I am mildly embarrassed to admit that my daughters and I frequently enjoy viewing reality-talent programming. We're really into it. It's awful. We don't let the boys watch dancing because in Ashli's words: "Man, doze ladies are un-modest!" However, there seems to be one tiny little fruit of encouragement from American idol. Almost daily, as I sing (be it : the national anthem while washing dishes, a lyrical aria --the lyrics to which have escaped me, or Amazing Grace - gospel style) one child or another boasts, "Mom, you would totally not get voted off American Idol!" A few oblivious folks who think you rock....priceless.

Anyhoo. Saturday evening the girls and I were hanging out and we turned on PBS. They were broadcasting re-runs of Lawrence Welk. The girls delighted in the colorful, frilly costumes (for men & women alike). They mimicked the dancing, twirling, conducting, and bowing. As one blond bouffant finished her "lovely number", Ardyn probed, "Do you think anyone will call in to vote for her?"

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Midday Ramblings

Today I went to church to record a demo CD for the ladies in choir to listen to in order to learn the Christmas music. I sang Christmas songs for 3 hours straight. Big fun. Now I can't get the melodies and lyrics out of my head. What a nice way to approach the day. It's hard to bark at someone when you have "Glo-o-o-o-o-o-riah" circling your brain.

I have to take the boys to (what I hope will be their last) football practice. They should have their last game on Saturday night. I'm in total denial about dinner. Breaded chicken sandwiches from the freezer sounds like a great idea to me. How 'bout you? The girls and I will head to WalMart during practice and hopefully be checked-out in time to pick up the stinky boys. Philip is moonlighting tonight, so we'll meet up with him later towards bedtime.

I want to say "hey" to Jill. Hey. Thanks for sharing encouragement. Plus on making up new words. love it.

And a special "Howdy" to my 90210-watchin' roommate from a hundred years sister-in-law-in-law, AMY. Philip asked who Jenny Garth on Dancing with the Stars was.....puh-leeze! Please send pix of your kids....and an email.

About the whole "love abounds" thing. I believe we've stumbled onto a touchpoint, or hotspot...however you wish to perceive. Conversations are buzzing all around. I think it's cool that people are discussing. Probes, intrigues, and passionate invitations to look at life from a fresh perspective: very cool.

I've been told I need to site my "child psychologists", and the biggest hurdle is the comparative word "more" in stead of "differently". Obviously, it's a different kind of love, but I still feel like there is an increasing quality about it which requires the term "more". I'll keep working on it, we'll keep listening to one another and hopefully everyone will be sharpened. Praise the Lord.