Thursday, December 30, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook



FOR TODAY Thursday, December 30, 2010...

Outside my window...warm & muggy weather. Really??

I am remembering...last new year's weekend.

I am thankful for...my kiddos. They are not perfect...they're not even manageable at times, but I love them dearly, and I am so happy to be able to spend my days with them: learning and growing and --for the most part -- having a pretty fun time.

I am creating...two more stockings for my brother's ever-growing family. I'm behind, and I am excited about sewing. Barring any late spring "announcements" from their family, I should be able to meet the November deadline with ease.

I am going...to try to find a new purse this month. My REALLY cool, big, purple one from two Christmases ago is aged and ready to retire. sniff.

I am reading...the Hobbit with Ardyn and a wonderful Bible story book that was a Christmas gift from Washington.

I am hoping...to establish a theme for the women's newsletters this year. I feel aimless and theme-less. Ideas?

On my mind...how brief and full 2010 seems from this vantage.

From the learning rooms... Mari Alice wrote her friend's name and her own on a card for a birthday party today. She really did. I watched her do it as I put on my make-up. It was beautiful work. But instead of sibling celebration for such a motor skill break-through, she was met with disbelief and skepticism from every side. No one would believe her, so she finally just said, "YALL! I really did this. I'll do it again right now...A.B.B.Y. (see??) M.A.R.I. (see, that's a good R, huh?) A.L.I.C.E. There! And now for the balloon with a 4 on it because Abby turned 4 just like me only this is December and January is next and we keep going until August and I will turn 5 WAY before Abby does. OK? OK!"

Noticing that...I am very sleepy.

Pondering these words... "Apart from Me, you can do nothing."

From the kitchen...wild boar that was inadvertently cooked with the bullet in it. Awaiting the poison verdict. Tons of stuff for cool toaster sandwiches tomorrow...ammunition-free:)

Around the house...girls are having a "sleep-over" in one room, fellas are bonding in the living room, I am happily alone.

One of my favorite things... the homemade LaraBars I made over the holidays. Dates and nuts in a processor for 3 minutes = little chunks of heaven.


To participate or simply enjoy more daybooks, visit The Simple Woman.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Revealed

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.
On Christ the solid rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground is sinking sand.

Several months ago I was driving the car and listening to music. I can take you to the stretch of highway where this line of lyrics blared out above every other word that had been broadcast that afternoon. To my ears, the song seemed to sound like this: "Bah dah duh dah, nuh nuh-nuh num, DRESSED IN HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS ALONE, doo-bee doo dah, muh nuh-nuh num."

"Dressed in His Righteousness....Alone." Alone? Like nobody around me? hmmmm. No! His righteousness alone. Like nothing covering me besides His... In other words: Naked in Jesus. Oh dear me.

Stunned by such a fresh revelation in a song so often sung, I sat fearfully ashamed of my spiritual physique so glaringly exposed. And then, in dynamic contrast to the earlier blast, God whispered this confirmation from Scripture.

Romans 13:14 says "...clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ..."

What a relief. What a challenge. A precious & pivotal idea. My only hope.

Colossians 4:12-14 "Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."

This gives me much to consider on so many levels as I linger in my closet and prepare for the day. I throw off the tainted garments of sin and selfishness and stand bare before the One who knows me through and through. As I choose - as I consciously determine the apparel that will be perceivable to others, I must willingly decide to clothe myself with the character of Christ: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness & patience.

And just before stepping out, I remember that the secret to a great presentation is that perfect scarf that completes the ensemble and pulls it all together in unity. Love. I choose love. A divinely designed scarf of love that will cover the multitude of shortcomings that are sure to snag my attempts toward righteousness. And it will provide a pattern of peace that will gracefully draw the other fabrics together.

Brings new meaning to "getting ready for my day" and "prayer closet".

PS. I REALLY wanted to title this post, "Nude and Improved".

I refrained. You're welcome.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Circulation

The kids and I stopped by the library yesterday. As a result, our living room shelf will be offering the following selections over the next couple weeks.

Jan Brett's Christmas Treasury
The Hat, The Mitten, & Then Gingerbread Baby are just a few titles included in this enormous collection of winter wonderment.

Fancy Nancy's Splendiferous Christmas
Mari Alice confessed to me this evening, "I think our house is kinda junky on the outside...not really beautiful like people who have glitter lights and twinkles all over."

Jingle Bells by Iza Trapini
A water colored sleigh ride through various cultures and Christmas traditions around the world. "Oh what fun it is!"

Dicken's A Christmas Carol
"God bless us, every one!"

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
*There are lonely, neglected people all around who just need love. They need Jesus. They are more closely related to His purposes than the big batch of committed busy-bodies who call themselves the church.

And from 1984 Sandi Patty album: "May the joy of the season surround you...Merry Christmas with Love!"

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It's the Thought that Counts

Tonight at the dinner table, we played "If you had $1000 to spend on each person's Christmas gift, what would you buy?"

Here are some highlights...

Philip announced that he would purchase all six kids lifetime hunting/fishing licenses. And with the leftover money he and I would cruise to Alaska...literally.

Most popular gift ideas were iPads, bikes, and new teeth for Philip (he has recently come to grips with the grim state of his dental health.

Ardyn would treat me to a BUNCH of spa treatments. I'll be well-groomed and relaxed on my Alaskan cruise:)

When Mari beamed that she would buy Ashlin a Barbie, Ashli grunted back, "anything else??"

Personally, I would pool the little girl's money and install a cool playground. I would give Landen a 6 month voucher for auto insurance...actually 4 months might soak up his grand. I would honor Philip's wishes to send his allotment straight to the dentist. Since we're just dreaming, I went ahead and let Luke have a snazzy cellular device. And for Ardyn...a shopping spree. And by "spree" we mean a couple stores in less than two hours...for Ardyn, a true spree would cost considerably more than $1000.

For his dad, Luke would buy great tickets to a Rangers game. (sweet!) He would get Ardyn a digital camera, and he offered his brother a "75 ft, cant-see-you-from-the-outside, 75 degree Fahrenheit, hog-proof deer stand". obie-kabie.

Back to the real world.

It was great fun to dream with generosity. Honestly, it was hard to keep my fun from being slightly tainted by the very sad realization that even if we all pooled our imaginary funds, we couldn't pay for all the dental work Philip needs - AFTER insurance. sheesh.

Thank You, Lord, for giving good gifts to Your children. Thank You for helping us be generous in our hearts and imaginations. Please help us carry out comparable generosity in real time with our real money. Thank You for caring for us in every little detail of our lives. Praise You!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook



FOR TODAY Sunday, December 12, 2010...

Outside my window...quiet frigid darkness.

I am remembering...my Papa Hank.

I am thankful for...excellent choral music.

I am creating...lists and calendars.

I am going...to Branson soon:)

I am reading...November/December magazines.

I am hoping...Johnsons stay well.

On my mind...time marches on.

From the learning rooms...one more week.

Noticing that...I need washcloths.

Pondering these words... "God with us."

From the kitchen...lots of leftovers.

Around the house...who really knows?

One of my favorite things...God's World News

From my picture journal...maybe another time:)

To participate or simply enjoy more daybooks, visit The Simple Woman.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Saturday Evening Post

Philip has been enjoying an unexpected weekend away with his pal at the deer lease.

While the cat's away...

The deer meat had been quartered, but since Philip skipped town, Landen and Luke finished the processing. With frigid hands and accomplished hearts, they presented the pots and pans full of ground venison. I spent the better part of Friday browning meat in onion and peppers. After all four pots were done, I still had a big mixing bowl of meat. So after 7 dozen meatballs, I totally loafed it up!!

Now speedy supper starters for the next several months are in the freezer. It feels like money in a savings account...and time in a bottle.

Friday afternoon Landen and I secured Mari Alice's Christmas present. (precisely what she wanted, made by the company Philip wanted, at the price I wanted. win-win-win!)

Friday evening, Luke, Ardyn, Ashlin & I drove up to Jefferson to tour some Victorian homes. It was very fun. The tour guides mentioned "Cape Cod" and "Civil War" which the kids respectively had been studying, so that made it exciting. Though the weather was unseasonable warm, we decided to share a blizzard four ways. Just right.

Today I went with a very dear friend to a ladies' luncheon at a bed and breakfast. The food was wonderful, the coffee was fresh, and the conversation was a nice blend of honesty and forbearance.

Mari was waiting for me when I arrived home. She had been carrying around her coin purse since Friday night. She needed a ride to the gas station up the street to buy Ashli a treat for her birthday. I took her. She made her selection. She paid the nice lady. She scurried back to the car singing, "ooooh, YES, we have goodies!"

Luke was waiting for me when I arrived home. He needed jeans. We ran up to the mall and in record time found two pair within budget. Good stuff.

I had a little over an hour before my next activity. I washed the last of the venison dishes, helped Ardyn put the soup in the crock pot for tomorrow's lunch, loved on Elizabeth, put some laundry in, loved on the lizzard some more, and set up the ironing board. (The actual ironing would have to be postponed due to excessive lovin')

THEN my neighbors came by to pick me up and - with Landen babysitting AGAIN (wow, that guy is the best) we drove to Jefferson so the Summit Methodist choir could sing for the candlelight tour. I got to play a grand piano in a stained glass chapel. Very lovely!

Everyone was waiting on me when I got back. "Momma's been gone too much!" We made sure the house was tidy, ironed everyone's clothes for tomorrow, and bathed. As soon as the youngest three were in bed, we wrapped all of Ashlin's birthday presents for her big day tomorrow. When I kissed her good night, I whined, "This is the last time I'll be able to kiss a blue-eyed seven-year-old good night...EVER!" She shrugged at me like it was a personal problem and I probably needed to get over it. Harsh.

Tomorrow is such a big day for everyone. Ashlin turns 8. James is coming to take her out. The boys are singing with the IBC choir in two services, so the three of us need to be out the door by 7:45.

It's our morning to provide breakfast for the junior high SS, so there's a big pink note taped to the door leading to the garage that says, "Monkey Bread & Milk". It's half-baked and in the fridge - ready to be reheated at the church house.

Philip will be bringing the second shift of worshippers --right after he does three little hair-do's. Lord, be with him:) I'll have to jet after the last song of the first service in order to make it to the Methodists final cantata rehearsal. Then we're "live" at 10:50.

After church, we'll all meet back here for taco soup. O crud! The Taco Soup....I need to go make another pink sign that says "plug in crock pot".

Next we all get to watch Ash open her presents and dig into the strawberry pound cake that Luke baked especially for her. Yum-to-the-Me:)

THEN we're all gonna take a big fat birthday/sabbath/cantata NAP. (Lord willing:)

Thank You, God. For everything. Thank You for allowing Philip and Lee to hang out and do uninterrupted guy stuff. Thank You for keeping the rest of us occupied with back-to-back fun stuff. Thank You for Ashlin. Thank You for Christmastime. See You at church tomorrow:)

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Advent: 9

Luke 1: 18 "Zechariah asked the angel, 'How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years."

Luke 1: 34 "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"

Two people get their worlds rocked with angelic messages.
Both are startled.
Both are afraid.
Both ask questions based on facts.

One is punished for unbelief & skepticism.
One is praised for unconditional servitude.

It's a subtle difference. But it's there. Mary doesn't question whether it will happen...only how. She assumes God's word is true.

Zechariah can't be sure. He allows the facts of his life to determine his uncertainty. He assumes the message can't possibly be true.

The angel said it best in the explanation to Mary of 'how': "...For nothing is impossible with God."

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Advent: 8

Luke 1:10 "And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside."

God is such a good story teller. He is about to send "Emmanuel -God with us" into the world. So, to lay the groundwork for such a huge turn of events, He aims the spotlight toward the priest, Zechariah.

In terms of access to the Presence of God, this guy won the jackpot. His priesthood and lineage got him most of the way there, then a toss of the dice earned him singular access to worship.

Outside the veil were the other priests - who though qualified, had not been chosen.

Outside the walls were the assembled worshipers - those whose desire to commune could only be satisfied vicariously.

Outside the city were shepherds - who would never be allowed the opportunity to personally adore the One True God.

Or so it seemed.

"Your holy presence
Surrounding me
In every season
I know You love me

Your Glory fills the highest place
What can separate me now?

You tore the veil,
You made a way!"


Come, O come, Emmanuel!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Advent: 7

Luke 1:8-9 "Once when Zechariah's division was on duty as he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense."

"...by lot..."
"...according to the custom..."

There may be many things in life that appear to happen by chance, or seem to be routine and regulatory. Nevertheless, God governs over the affairs of men.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Advent: 6

"In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years."

National leadership that opposes and feels threatened by the Truth of Christ.

(This sounds frighteningly familiar)

A faithful couple who pleased the Lord in every way,

(This sounds utterly unattainable)

but still faced prolonged sorrow.

(This sounds like a need for a Savior)

Life breaks and falls apart
But we know these are
Places where grace is soon to be so amazing
It may be unfulfilled
It may be unrestored
But when anything that's shattered is laid before the Lord
Just watch and see
It will not be unredeemed.



**You'll have to scroll down and pause the playlist before you play the video.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Advent: 5

Matthew 1:21 & 2:11 "She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins...On coming to the house, the Magi saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh."

"One king held the frankinscence.
One king held the myrrh.
One king held the purest gold.
One King held the hope of the world!"

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Advent: 4

Matthew 2:10 "When they saw the star, they were overjoyed."

This week I was on the lookout for the "perfect" star for the children's musical. I had one that was the right size, but not the right style. One was the right style but not the right color. One that was the right color, but not the right size. Sounds like a problem Goldilocks might have.

I just had to pray and tell the Lord, "I'm trying to get You the perfect star, but all I can find is this 9 inch clear one. If You want something different, please show me."

I just knew that I would walk into that last store and find exactly what I was looking for. Not so. I came up empty-handed. Hmmmm. Empty-handed. Honestly, once you think about it...what kind of star do you get the Guy who spoke all the stars into existence. Nothing. And all you have. At the same time.

"All I have, all I am, I lay it down before You. All my hopes, all my dreams, I lay them at Your feet. My future, my past, my next breath and my last. I give it all to You."

Friday, December 03, 2010

Advent: 3

Sometimes I forget that the Bible hasn't always been this neat and tidy, leather- bound cross-referenced compilation.

I think of John Piper's voice laid over the musical bridge in Casting Crown's "The Word is Alive"...

The Bible was inscribed over a period of two thousand years
In times of war and in days of peace
By kings, physicians, tax collectors,
farmers, fishermen, singers, and shepherds
The marvel is that a library so perfectly cohesive
could have been produced by such a diverse crowd
Over a period of time which staggers the imagination

Jesus is its grand subject,
our good is its design,
and the glory of God is its end.


Imagine what it would have been like to live when Mary & Joseph did...with No New Testament. Prophecies were taught and learned and shared from generation to generation. A Redeemer, a Rescuer, a Savior was coming. The fulfillment of the prophecies they'd studied for so long was unfolding before them in real time.

God had been scripturally silent for hundreds of years. Generation after generation of papas and mommas teaching their children about Abraham and Moses and what the prophets had said about the coming Messiah. Children were growing in knowledge and understanding...but more importantly...growing in faith and hope and trust.

Then, folks start seeing stars. Folks start hearing angels. "Could THIS be what we've hoped for?"

Luke 1:1-4 "Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught."

Did Luke KNOW he was penning the third book of my Bible? Who knows? He knew the Word was alive and promises were being fulfilled! He must have felt a strong sense of responsibility to pass along the truth...in an orderly, purposeful account.

So, I have to ask myself. Aren't there promises that are being fulfilled in my life? Aren't there areas where God's character is faithfully proved day after day. Have I carefully investigated the mysteries of Heaven? Have I shared the truths of scripture with my "most excellent" offspring?

Do I read the Scriptures to my kids often enough? What if all our Bibles were confiscated and my responsibility for imparting the truths and mysteries of God to future generations was supported only by the Holy Spirit and my memory of things read and heard? Have I been a good steward of the decades of availability...all the years I have spent with more than one copy of the Bible within reach at all times?

Help me, Jesus.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Advent: 2

Matthew 1:20 "But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife; for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost."

This passage gives me great hope. "But while he THOUGHT on these things..." Sometimes you just have to mull stuff over. When life doesn't go the way you assumed it might. When facts are confusing and gut-feelings can't be calmed. When you are in a period of "thinking on things", "BEHOLD"! Look out! Take Heart! God can show up.

And this is the message He speaks...

I know you.
I know your name.
I know where you come from.
Don't be afraid.
I know what's on your mind.
Do not be afraid.
I am working in this situation.
I'm in it and through it and over it:)

Then you step out in faith and watch the Truth unfold.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Advent:1

I was reading all the Biblical accounts of Jesus' birth today. (It can get dangerous when you start to think you "know" it.) There will be much to say during this season of hopefulness and expectancy. But today I have to stop on this verse.

Matthew 1:17 "So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations."

I know that God is mysterious and majestic, but THIS is what I love about Him right this moment. Do you see the forethought? The balance and equality. The benchmarks and even spread. "Generations" of people. Families. All part of God's plan.

I serve the One True God who not only has a purpose, but likes to establish it in tidy, matchy chunks. LOVE it!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Kitchen Connection

James and I were discussing our favorite foods the other day. While Meatloaf and Dressing stood firm at the top of my list, I felt compelled to add last week's Pumpkin Bread Pudding. The baby brother detected a pattern to which I had been oblivious.

"Cari, I think you would like anything as long as you mix it with bread and egg and bake it."

Indeed:)

If you share my delight in baked breadiness...

CROCK POT DRESSING
From Aunt Jeannie who swiped it from Aunt Jacque:)
16 servings

8" pan of cornbread
8 slices of day old bread
4 eggs (raw beaten)
1 medium onion -chopped
1 cup celery chopped
1 1/2 T sage
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 cans chicken broth
2 T butter

Saute onion and celery until limp
Crumble breads
Combine all ingredients except butter
Pour into crock pot and dot with butter
Cover and cook on high 2 hours or low 3-4 hours

(You can cook a whole chicken to make the broth and then even use the chicken pieces to make it more of a main dish. You can even swap one can of soup for cream of celery.)

If you think you should increase the recipe time and a half, use two crock pots. Or you could find yourself at noon-thirty on Thanksgiving day wishing you had another couple hours to devote to the over-filled crock. Then you might find yourself at 2:30 [finally] spooning out the yummy crunchy edge pieces. Just sayin.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Venti

20 things I need to get off my chest...

I don't like Sunday night football. It hypnotizes all the helpful handsome ones and alienates me to rap up this week and plan for next week alone.

I am ready for the babies NOT to cough when I lay them down to sleep.

I am blessed to be able to worship with two separate congregations, but it is a tiny bit tiring.

I am REALLY nervous about next Sunday's Children's Musical. We have done our best with the little time we've had to prepare, but "polished" will elude us I believe.

I am REALLY nervous about the following Sunday's Choral Cantata. 40 minutes of non-stop accompaniment. What if I need a little rest??

I really love my sisters-in-law and their sisters. "Extended" family is a happiness.

I have spent the last two months losing and re-losing the same few pounds. Bleck. Hoping tomorrow's start is better.

I wish everyone in my life were lovingly honest with me. I think...

I have the best brothers in the world. None of them live close enough, but they totally rock.

I'm still nervous about the musical. Can't help it.

I am so glad my whole family came to my "other" church this morning. It was a blessing to arrive together and leave together in the same car.

I am happy for Philip - he shot a 9 point Friday. Remind me to add "process and cook venison" to the list for this week.

I keep forgetting to pick up my contacts from the eye doctor. I should tie a ribbon around my finger...or better yet, around my eyeglasses.

We have clean sheets. I love clean sheets. Someday when some of these folks are gainfully employed and have secured alternate dwellings, I'll wash my sheets every other day or so. I REALLY love yummy smelling, soft, clean sheets.

I heard someone use really crass language the other day. They didn't know I could hear them. I am disgusted and not sure what to do.

Speaking of disgusting...one of my big toe nails fell off. I stubbed it really badly last week when I was vacuuming. Yesterday, it fell O.F.F. yuck!?!

Oh, this venting thing is working. I feel better. Still nervous about next Sunday, but getting to the place where I might be able to sleep tonight.

I will miss the colors of Thanksgiving, but Christmas decor is fun too.

I need to find a big pre-lit star for the you-know-what next Sunday.

I guess I don't really mind Sunday night football if it means I get to blog.

Dear Lord Jesus -- Thank You for offering Peace for my life. My hope is in You alone. In my weakness, I fully rely on Your perfect strength to accomplish Your goals. Thank You for preparing a place for me. I want to do the same for You as I anticipate Your "coming".

Ready to Roll

Mari Alice asked me, "When is God coming to pick us up?" I replied, "Well, no one knows for sure. It could be today. We better be ready!"

She continued, "Mom, you know those bags we keep in our car to give to homeless people?"

**our church has equipped members with bags of food and toiletry items to have in our car to give to needy people we find along the way**

"Yes, Mari, what about those bags?"

"Well, I have a great idea! If we go to heaven today, maybe we should bring that bag 'cause I think Mary & Joseph could really use it."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Martha Redeemed: It's a Good Thing

Luke 10:38-42 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me." But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her."
(emphasis, cdj)

I used to become defensive when reading this story. I felt so much empathetic pity for poor Martha. She had welcomed Jesus into her home, and worked diligently to provide for the occasion. I would think to myself, "Well, we ALL can't be Mary's, now, can we? The biscuits won't bake themselves!"

But I've come to understand that Martha was not wrong in her service. Her mistake was allowing herself to become distracted by her own servitude. The only reason Jesus even spelled it out for her was because she approached him in a hissy fit. Hmmmm. He acknowledged the notion that peaceful communion was preferable to perturbed complaints. Shocking.

So how can we avoid becoming "anxious and troubled" about many things when welcoming people into our home?

PROBLEM SOLVE:
Determine your hospitality trouble spots and be proactive about remaining calm. What is your biggest potential joy thief? Cleaning? Having enough room? Cooking? Finding things to talk about? Having enough food? Running out of time or having little notice of arriving guests?

PLAN:
Try to plan your menu and to-do list far in advance. Only include dishes and decorations that will bring you joy. If fancy china brings you joy, wipe it off and go for it. You'll probably have a great time chatting over the dish sink. But if disposable plates will not interfere with your festivities, they might afford you more time to sit and visit with family. I don't enjoy the tedious prep work that most cooking involves - like chopping and measuring. So I try to do as much ahead of time as possible.

PREPARE:
Clean a few days in advance and just plan to sweep over the traffic areas and entry and wipe down the bathrooms before guests arrive. Cook as much as you can a couple days in advance...or many days and freeze it. Last week I chopped and sauteed the onions and celery for my dressing. I added the measured spices and put it in a zipper bag in the freezer next to the bag of cornbread:) Thursday morning it will only take a minute or two to put bread, seasoned veggies, and broth into the crock pot. The pumpkin bars are also waiting in the freezer... in a pan ready to pop in the oven.

PRIORITIZE:
If you get caught off guard and you don't get a chance to prepare, or haven't taken time to plan, ultimately you must prioritize. Making the most of time spent together is far more important than meal prep and domestic perfection.

I always keep a grocery bag tied up in the cupboard. Its contents: canned beans, taco seasoning, canned tomatoes, tortilla chips and a brownie mix. In the freezer I keep at least one bag of browned ground meat and frozen corn. These two mainstays allow me to offer taco soup for dinner within an hour. So if afternoon friends linger toward the dinner hour, I barely have to interrupt the conversation to throw together dinner. Philip has the freedom to invite folks to dinner without me having to panic and run to the store.

PRAY:
Ask the Lord what would bring Him the most honor. Sometimes a nourishing meal is the priority, so you concentrate on being resourceful, spontaneous, and quick. Sometimes the conversation is of greater importance, so you throw together some sliced apples, popcorn & cheese and sit and visit. Sometimes the need for others to fellowship is the central concern, so you keep the kids occupied, follow the toddlers, and keep every one's tea glasses mysteriously refilled.

As a hostess, your peace and joy can set the vibe for the whole house. So if you spend the day walking about serving all those you've welcomed, focus on your love for God and love for His creation. Don't be distracted by your effort and become anxious and troubled. Your worship will not be taken from you:) It's a very good thing!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Thankful for my Tribe: Part 6, The End.



Elizabeth Anne. Lizzy Bug. The Gizzard.

You know when you meet people with horrible nicknames and you think to yourself, "How could a mother allow such..."

Well, sometimes, moms are outnumbered. That's all I'm sayin.

This precious child is literally the sparkle in my eyes. She brings me peace and joy in a heavenly way. I know her better than anyone on earth does, but there is still so much I don't know.

Is she talkative or shy? Will she be athletic or musical --she has shown promise for both (Yay!) Does she prefer drama or comedy? Outdoor or Indoor? How exciting to watch her grow into all the God has created her to be!

For now, she is in the "B" phase of interests and hobbies...Books, Balls, Babies, Blankets, Butterflies and Bananas.

I am grateful to God for giving us the courage to have "one more". He has blessed us beyond measure. Thank You, God, for Elizabeth Anne!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thankful for my Tribe: Part 5


Landen Paul in 1998. Ninny-Pah since his sisters met him.

Our firstborn. The poor soul who was destined to receive the brunt of my inexperience and insecurities as a parent. And yet, he emerges surprisingly healthy in so many ways.

He is kind and hard-working; friendly and helpful. He is strong and handsome...much like his dad. He loves to sing and dance...half-way like me.

For the last year or so, I have newfound freedom during the work week since LP can hold down the fort while I run to town alone for a quick errand. He watches over his sisters with the utmost care.

So grateful to be able to trust him whole-heartedly.
So blessed that he offers to help with cheerful enthusiasm.

He does look forward to passing the babysitting baton down to Luke next year as he "mobilizes" his helpfulness to run errands from the driver's seat. Nelly!

He is quite secure in who he is and doesn't worry with public opinion too much. He is learning the art and importance of being authentic. I know in my heart that he will do amazing things for God's Kingdom. I'm glad to be a part of his sweet life.

Thank You, God, for Landen Paul!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thankful for my Tribe: Part 4


Mari Alice Johnson. Operator Number Nine. 2007

When Philip and I were engaged, we dreamed about the children we might someday have. We had no idea about boys' names, but one thing we knew for sure: We NEEDED a Mari Alice. My dad's mom -Mary Alice Walker - died when he was a boy. I loved the idea of bearing a namesake for a Gramma I would have to wait a lifetime to kiss.

I am so thankful for this child! She is confident and charming. She possesses keen discernment beyond her years and delivers the most boisterous rumble of a belly laugh. She cracks me up and touches my heart.

Mari is usually the first one to greet me in the morning and she always has an initial objective for the day's unfolding if not a sketchy timeline. I love her enthusiasm and determination.

Thank You, God, for Mari Alice.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thankful for my Tribe: Part 3


Brendan Luke 2002.

I wanted a "Luke". Philip wanted a "Brendan". We compromised.

This guy is a triple threat. Not so much singing, dancing & acting... I was thinking more like handsome, sharp & cool. He is officially taller than I and he is determined to call me "Short Stuff".

His tall stature, blond hair, and blue eyes make him a knock-out. His dimple melts my heart. AND he is keenly aware of this capability and unashamedly exploits my maternal meltishness. He'll aim that dimple right at me as he cocks his head and smiles, "Pleeeeeeease, Mom, just this once." ("This once" my rrrrutabaga!)

It is no secret that Luke challenges me...on a lot of levels. He immediately perceives inconsistency and will not tolerate status quot. He always sees room for improvement and can usually catch my mistakes. He finds comfort in closure... projects, conversations, AND especially cabinet doors. He thrives on honesty and I am honestly grateful for all these things.

He is learning the art and importance of pursuing peace and I firmly believe God will use him to do bold and mighty things for the Kingdom. It is my joy to be a part of his molding and shaping.

Did I mention that he can drop a buck, mash a ball, and cook an amazing dinner?

Thank You, God, for Brendan Luke.

In His Hands

An editorial from the Atlantic Monthly writes...


"The world is too big for us. Too much is going on, too many crimes, too much violence and excitement. Try as you will, you get behind in the race in spite of yourself. It's an incessant strain to keep pace...and still, you lose ground. Science empties its discoveries on you so fast that you stagger beneath them in hopeless bewilderment. The political world is news seen so rapidly you are out of breath trying to keep pace... Everything is high pressure. Human nature cannot endure much more."


-The Atlantic Monthly, June 16, 1833

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thankful for my Tribe: Part 2


Our little Ash-Bash in 2005.

Ashlin Rae. Ashli. Ash.

My kindred spirit.

I've always had a bit of a crush on this child...she looks so much like her father. She also inherited his gentleness and care. She is a beautiful girl of moderate words, many thoughts, and limitless organizational skills. She also has a joyful work ethic and a fantastic sense for humor. What's not to love?

She has always been low-maintanence...never seeming to need much at all by way of attention or possession. Maybe that's why I have such a tender spot in my heart for her. Her contentedness leaves me plenty of room to shower her with words and time and treats.

She loves to learn. She confessed the other day that she feels really badly for Leah from the Bible...not being Isaac's first choice. Just this morning, she stopped me mid-chores to tell me the story of Harriet Tubman. She is the first child I've ever had to ground from SCHOOL. Funny.

Thank You, God, for Ashlin Rae.

Thankful for my Tribe: Part 1


My Very Own Princess, 2004

Following a sorrowful miscarriage and a quiet season of complete dependency upon God, He blessed us with a cheerfully talkative, brown-eyed girl who would become all things bright and beautiful.

My first daughter.

I named her myself: "Fervant outpouring of Mercy".

Ardyn Grace.

She is stylishly tall with shiny waves of thick brown hair. Her face has tiny features and a light dusting of hereditary freckles. Her one vice: biting her nails. But nonetheless, whether dancing or fishing or lounging, she is certainly lovely.

Ardyn feels strongly and is deeply devoted. She loves to give gifts and she gives gifts to love. She has already secured all but two of her Christmas gifts for family this year, and instead of feeling accomplished, she'd prefer to go another round.

She is so thoughtful...and her mind is forever full of thoughts. Thus, a new case of spirals remains at her disposal for all musings and sketches. Her spirit speaks in the language of poetry and art so she recognizes beauty all around and is quick to offer praise to the One who made it all.

I am thankful for her laughter and song...her passion and purity. Thank You, God, for Ardyn Grace.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Ever Tried This??

Today's Recipe --though the idea that you need a recipe for this is comical -- is in honor of my Mom's favorite sandwich: Peanut Butter, Lettuce, and Miracle Whip. I googled it to see if she is alone in her quirky preference. She is not. Evidently, in the depression era, the sandwich was a popular choice for an inexpensive lunch option. Those folks made it for their kids. Now those kids have grown up, retired, and are still loving their wacko sandwich:)



Ingredients
2 slices bread
1 tablespoon Miracle Whip
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 lettuce leaves

Directions
Spread one slice of bread with Miracle Whip. Spread the other slice with peanut butter. Place lettuce leaves on top of the peanut butter, then top with the Miracle Whip-side of the other piece of bread to make a sandwich.

ok, I said this post was to honor mom's choice for lunch today. It was really an excuse to post a photo that would gross out the baby brother. How we doin' JW??

I believe I tried this combo once back in '78. Not a fan. If we're having peanut butter, I would like it with honey. If we need to eat lettuce, I'll have it with turkey and mayo. Me no likey the "whip"....it sorta tastes like old mayo with sugar added. Just sayin.

Mom, I hope you enjoyed your lunch. James, leave her alone, she has thousands of like-minded partakers across the country. I love you both no matter what you ate for lunch!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Costume Craze

Mari Alice bugging like a lady.
Ardyn Grace...our own little doll face.
Ashlin Rae falling for it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Captive Audience

This morning as Elizabeth is lingering in her highchair, Mari shares the gospel.

She leans on the plastic tray and opens her miniature pink Bible for Liz to see.

"Can you show me Jesus?"

The baby touches the pages of print with her chubby pointer finger.

"Good Job, LizBeth!"

Then MariAlice proceeds to tell the whole story...

"Mary had a tiny baby named Jesus.
Did you know that Jesus died for your sins?
He did, He Did, He DID!
It was soooo sad when Jesus died on that cross."

She closes the Bible and walks away from the highchair.
Elizabeth hollers in protest, so Mari dutifully returns to her post of proclamation and opens the scriptures again.

"But THEN...
Mary was sooooo happy 'cause Jesus rose up from the grave.
He wasn't died anymore! Yay! The End."

Thank You, God, for letting me see You this morning in the dining room. I trust You to draw these two precious girls closer to You so that they might seek You more, know You more, and love You more.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thankful Thoughts

Nov 1: Thank You, God, for today...You made it. I will be glad right here in it:)

Nov 2: Thank You, God, for rainy days, giggly kids, and fully functional household appliances...and the calm assurance that You have made all these possible.

Nov 3: Thank You, God, for friends who speak the truth in love. Priceless:)

Nov 4: I thank God for Philip Johnson. Handsome, happy, strong & gentle....plus also he thinks I'm a very fun girl. He's simply the best.

Nov 5: I thank God for faithful friends who live to make music to our King.

Nov 6: Just plain ol' thankful:)

Nov 7: I am thankful for sisters who love each other and giggle alot. I only know the good-hearted chuckles of brotherly love, so this closeness my daughters share is mesmerizing to me. I'm so glad they have each other...and that I'm along for the ride:)

Nov 8: This morning I am thankful for beds that are made, toast that is buttered, coffee that is brewed, and the wealth of opportunity today seems to hold:)

Nov 9: I thank God for my two man-cubs. They are handsome, funny, and helpful.

Nov 10: Thankful for miracles. Real-life, sent-from-above, modern-day miracles.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Channel Discovery

With the Rangers in the play-offs, one might imagine my household would be brimming with roars, chants, and popcorn in the couch cushions. But alas, the game is 150 miles away and only televised on cable. Philip took all who were interested to a satellite location...literally:)

We are in uncharted territory. I am at home alone with Oscar and the LizzarBeth. They have been silent, if not unconscious, for hours. Are you ready? I sat down with a diet coke, propped my feet up, and ....(wait for it)

...watched a movie
in its entirety
happily.

I really don't like watching movies. It's hard for me to relax and not feel overwhelmed with "all the other things I probably should be doing."

Moreover, there are very few great movies. So, it's statistically improbable that a given movie will leave me with that "what a great way to spend a couple hours" feeling.

Flipping through the N*tfl!x options, I chose "Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind". I had not heard of it, and was concerned by its rating, but gave it a shot. (its Restricted rating was for strong language and one brief hiney...ok, I guess it was "de-briefed" actually...)

Anyway. It was a strange, quirky movie. But I think I liked it.

Beyond an intriguing approach to the concept of "moving on" after difficulties, the central message I gathered was this: People are flawed, and the tossed coin that holds their best and worst attribute can make life difficult, unless you choose to experience that person through a filter of unconditional love and acceptance. And in the safety of that commitment, we have room and reason to grow.

*****

I'm so grateful that Philip and I have been patient with one another. We are each very messed up in so many ways. We knew that fact would become undeniable the more we shared our lives. But one thing we have in common...the most important thing we share is God's redemptive love.

God took my rotten little heart. That selfish, disobedient, prideful heart -- He took it and replaced it with a heart capable of true love. His love.

I've been forgiven for SO many words, thoughts, and actions. I've been forgiven for SO many episodes of disobedient silence, disengaged senses, and lazy-donkey apathy. SO many times I've been forgiven. Clean slate. Forgiven. Forgotten. "He remembers it no more."

I am so blessed by Christ's sacrifice. I want my life to be a sacrificial blessing to Him...and others. But so often I rare up and fall miserably short.

There was a situation in the past that grieved me for years. I felt wronged. I felt betrayed and hurt. I felt entitled. I felt cold and indifferent, and yet ablaze with passionate insecurity.

I had journeyed long and hard toward forgiveness with some of the participants. And yet toward others, I never even tried. I didn't hate them. I just wasn't interested in loving them. According to the book of John, "this cannot be."

Last month, as I lay on the floor, I prayed alot. It was a different, more focused kind of prayer....well, except for the pain meds:)...than I'm accustomed to. I was able to really hash things out with the Lord. We had uninterrupted time to linger and labor over several different issues.

This certain wound came up in conversation multiple times. As the Holy Spirit took inventory of my heart, I discovered the sorrowful truth that I've never even cared. During those weeks, He sent divine messages through earthly means that alerted me to people who were hurting. My first instinct was to turn away. God, forgive me.

But with patience and heavy presence, He guided me to the place where I saw the stark contrast of how He treats me against how I treat others. I wept with tears of repentance and He once again poured out forgiveness. Almost immediately, I felt compassion for people I had been determined to ignore. I cared.

I want God's best for them. I pray for them to experience peace and joy.

And in His love, I find it.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook



FOR TODAY Tuesday, October 12, 2010...

Outside my window...the cool, dark night surrounds our warmly lit home.

I am remembering...that I forgot AGAIN to call the billing office at the hospital today. Would a string around my finger be the next strategy?

I am thankful for...my physical therapist. I've never been so grateful that an individual chose the path of higher learning! She is so gifted and helpful...such a pivotal part of my healing. Thank You, God.

I am creating...an ENORMOUS mess in the girls' rooms. We are trying to systematically switch out seasonal clothes. With four growing girls, it's a multi-tiered process which sadly has spanned several days already. We can see the light at the end of this hand-me-down tunnel...and we purchased vacuum sealable storage bags so there will be more closet space in the off-season.

I am going...choir practice at the Methodist church tomorrow night. I am so blessed to be able to be a part of two different worship services each week. I experience an array of thoughts, responsibilities, messages, tunes, and friendships. I'm a lucky girl:)

I am reading...nothing. While on my floor mat during September, I was able to catch up on all my magazines. However, my mind is not quite back in gear to tackle a new read, so I stall, and the bedside pile of possibilities continues to stack.

I am hoping...for lots of things...but my hope is ultimately in Christ.

On my mind...my sweet Mom on her "eh-hmmth" birthday.

From the learning rooms...auto pilot. good thing.

Noticing that...the clutter bugs have reinfested my room. Not sure when I can exterminate. Hopefully soon.

Pondering these words... "We don't stop moving because we get old. We get old because we stop moving."

From the kitchen...Talapia, sweet potatoes, spinach & onions, and carrots. FYI: Elizabeth has a NO DEAL policy on all of the above. She's never rejected any food. But tonight she was rolling it off her tongue, out of her mouth, and back onto her tray as fast as we were offering it. Philip giggled hysterically. So we all joined in.

Around the house...The veggie rejector is sleeping soundly. The tuckered out clothes-tryer-onner is snoring in her toddler bed. The studious one is reading in bed. A frustrated fashionista is also reading in bed, but with slightly less enjoyment. Three handsome Ranger fans are spatting stats with awe and wonder as they bask in the glory of tonight's post-season victory. And I, in my solitude, am happily blogging.

One of my favorite things...the sound of my children singing. Whether it's Ardyn repetitively lilting Elizabeth's name really sweetly, Ashlin rockin' out to "He's Still Workin' On Me" with headphones, or Mari Alice's "My Country 'tis of Thee, sweet lamb of liver-tee..." It's all great. Landen is rarely NOT singing. And despite the deep-throated strength his recent physiological transitions do afford, he still prefers his breathy, high-pitched falsetto. (makes me grin.) Heck, I even enjoy Luke's hilarious original ballad entitled: "Partially Hydrogenated Lard" -trust me, you do NOT want to know.

From my picture journal... My lovely mother and [almost] all her grand kids. It's been less than a year since this photo was taken, and we've added two more! Thanksgiving 2009, Jack Henry was "in transit" and Abigail Rae was yet in the mind of God. Thank You, God, for my mom...and all the darlings represented on her ever-expanding birthstone charm necklace:)


To participate or simply enjoy more daybooks, visit The Simple Woman.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Grounded

I just have to say that my kids are the greatest. With more than a week of bed rest yet to endure, they continue to have [for the most part] fabulous flexibility and honest, helpful spirits.

I have been rendered useless in my own home. I have achieved full "tabby cat" status and struggle with frustration, guilt, and general helplessness. Meanwhile they cheerfully oversee Elizabeth's watch care with tag team enthusiasm, they take turns getting meals prepared and served, and seem to enjoy my consistent presence and availability in the middle of the living room floor.

I've had my feet rubbed with lotion, ice water served with a straw, and coffee & toast provided every morning --with a great deal of butter, naturally:)

The pain is subsiding each day, it seems. I also have more mobility in my joints - hip and knee. But with the improvement comes distinct temptation to get up "for just a minute to see what I can get done". Philip says, "No, Ma'am!" And so I lay. Or do I lie? Even without drugs, that's a tricky call. I'll let you make it.

Thank You, God, for Landen and his servant-like sweetness; for Luke and his ability to anticipate a need; for Ardyn and her kind-hearted helpfulness; for Ashlin and her ability to care and cope; for Mari Alice for the brightness she brings; and for Elizabeth and her precious personality. Thank You, for Philip. He is one of the greatest gifts You've blessed me with. Help me be gracious and kind as I am forced to retreat and receive. Thank You for Your healing.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ironic

My brother found this at a garage sale.

I find this wildly amusing.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Back Track

Just got back from an MRI on my lower lumbar and leg. The doctor wants to confirm that the disk that is compressing my femoral nerve has not ruptured. It's my understanding that if it is merely bulging, then perhaps we can avoid surgery, and rely upon physical therapy and "changes in lifestyle" to correct the problem.

About my lifestyle...apparently I sit incorrectly, lay incorrectly, stand incorrectly, lift incorrectly and I obviously paint baseboards incorrectly. Honestly, I'd be surprised if this "lifestyle change" didn't include fewer calories and more exercise. Super-dee-duper.

So, we are on day five of my fortnight of bedrest. The doctor prefers that I lay prostrate on the hard floor with a pillow under my pelvis, my hips shifted to the right and my legs pointed toward the left. Though it sounds ridiculous, and less than comfy, I am supremely grateful for his wise suggestion.

This position is the ONLY position where I find relief from the otherwise constant pain and pressure on my knee. I would have never discovered this posture on my own. The doctor formulated this personalized position by moving everything in direct oposition to how my body was naturally allowing each part to rest.

AND with all the extra narcotic-hazed time to think, I have to wonder if there might be a spiritual parallel to my current plight.

Are there times when our own ignorance or lack of discipline bring about pain in our lives? And as we try to reallign ourselves, we find no suitable long-term solution. But as we submit to Wisom and Truth, we are asked to do the illogical, urged to try the unnatural, encouraged to try the uncomfortable. And in Merciful irony, we find rest. We find peace. We find sustained comfort.

Thank You, Jesus.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Days of Labor

Where the heck have I been?

I used to have lots of fun keeping a blog.

What happened?

Well, let's see...

My baby brother, James, came back to East Texas. Then, almost immediately flew to South Dakota to help with a church plant. His friend from Colorado, Katie, stayed with us while he was away. We had a huge time organizing cupboards, sharing stories and contemplating life's greater callings.

Of the many benefits Katie offered, two were of utmost importance. One was the lending of her wireless mouse. That little electronic varmint made it possible for me to finish the new Women's Ministry newsletter with few frustrations. Second was the introduction of her favorite veggie dish: Chopped Purple Cabbage with Balsamic vinegar, olive oil and salt. So simple, very yummy and even better the next day.

So, the newsletter, "Branches" was successfully mailed out yesterday. Mp3 kids' choir fires up this coming Sunday night. And my summer piano gig has been extended so I will still be accompanying the Methodists across town until further notice.

As far as school, the kids are finding their groove. Both girls have their first scripture passage memorized...Ash has learned Gen 1:1-5, and Ardyn has learned Isaiah 53:1-6. Landen is doing well, and Luke has hit his 10 week wall. He'll snap out of it, I'm sure. He's so bright...but got his attention span for all things new and exciting from his mom.

The deer lease has been bush-hogged. For those who were concerned...

I repainted the dining room and almost finished the new curtains before something snapped in my lower back and my left leg went numb. Couldn't walk. Couldn't sit. Couldn't lay. I was slap out of comfortable postures. I had the first of many visits to the chiropractor today and hopefully I'll be back to "peachy" soon.

And as if bush-hoggin and drape-sewin don't getcha in the Labor Day mood, we have BABIES!!! Long awaited, fat, healthy, gorgeous, bow-head babies.

BFF Kathy gave birth to a beautiful blue-eyed miracle named Kate on Saturday. You can pop over to see her photos she posted to her blog.

And SIL, aka Super-freakin-Momma ran down the road this morning for a brief visit with the midwife and was back before breakfast with baby Abigail in tow. Their photos are on facebook.

Thank you God, for all the wonderful things to which You've called us. Your plans are perfectly timed and full of goodness. I love YOU!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook



FOR TODAY Tuesday, August 25, 2010...

Outside my window...It's amazing the difference 10 degrees can make....especially when it's the 10 between 97 and 87. With a strong breeze, it's almost manageable:)

I am remembering...my dad's memorial service. random. a friend's dad passed away this morning, so perhaps not so random now that I connect the dots.

I am thankful for...my new plaid couch. Already, there have been stacks of books read, loads of laundry folded, and all kinds of snugly people just piled all up on it. happiness.

I am creating...a grocery list and editing my continuous to-do list.

I am going...to be sweet tomorrow. Today was a big fat challenge. I failed. No one deserves a crabby nag.

I am reading...Magazines that have gathered dust all month. I finally finished "So Long Insecurity" last night. (That's a whole blog in itself:)

I am hoping...the James and Katie have a safe trip tomorrow. It will be so nice to have them around.

On my mind... How fragile my emotional stability seems at times...I can go from "fine" to "very not fine" in a fraction of a moment. And unlike almost every other season of my life...I have zero hormonal issues on which to cast the blame. Shucks. I must be bonkers.

From the learning rooms...We have had a super week. The girls seem to enjoy their new video classes --I'm teaching language arts this year and Pre-K...all other instruction is streamed.

The boys are showing mediocre signs of maturation...do I dare say? Perhaps they've realized I am NOT going to wake up some morning and say, "You know, fellas, I was just kidding about that whole school deal..." (I've also implemented the "bread & water for dinner unless your work is turned in" policy. Instant maturity:)

Noticing that...satan is a punk. I am distinctly at odds with his entire agenda.

"[She] will have no fear of bad news; [her] heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. [Her] heart is secure, [she] will have no fear; in the end [she] will look in triumph on her foes." Psalm 112:7-8

Pondering these words... "We are aflame with God's glory and radiating with the light of His knowledge in the exquisite face of His Son, Jesus Christ. And we're insecure? What kind of lies have we believed all this time? We, of all people on the earth, possess the reason, the residence, and the ongoing revelation to be, of all things, most secure." --Beth Moore

From the kitchen...chicken enchiladas tomorrow and then a much-needed trip to the grocery.

Around the house...everyone is in bed save the master and his queen. We are separately enjoying the silent, peaceful, down-time.

As for the house: The living room is a little "off". I added a couch while contemplating a tv relocation project, so with too many couches arranged sporadically throughout the space, the poor recliners don't know what to do. I'm three table lamps shy of a full-scale furniture show room. No kidding.

One of my favorite things...is Q & A with the kids. If I'm not careful, this can morph into one of my largest annoyances, but with kingdom focus, their inquiries and mysteries are wonderful.

Today I was asked, "Will you be my mom in heaven?" "If James is coming tomorrow, do I only need to sleep one more time and then he'll be here?" "Did you get in trouble for saying strong words when you were in jr. high?" and "Do you ever get scared when you think that heaven will never end?"

From my picture journal...Nastiest cake wish ever declared: "I would like pink cake with pink icing with colored marshmallows ALL over it!"

dutifully granted to the most delightful 4 year old in our home.
Happy Birthday, Mari Alice!


To participate or simply enjoy more daybooks, visit The Simple Woman.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Scratch and Sniff

Today might have been the most productive day I've lived in years - domestically speaking.

Shortly after cleaning up breakfast and overseeing the "changing of the zones", I delegated toddler duty to Luke while Landen and Ashli began their lessons. I went outside to the patio where Philip had placed the dining room table. No, he was not wishing for an alfresco luncheon...he knew I wanted to refinish the table top today.

And so I did. I sanded all 24 square feet of that bad boy. A couple hours later, palm sanding had caused my limbs to go numb, and the uninsulated tin roof of the patio had caused my clothes to be drenched. One fun fact: Sweat is to sawdust like tar is to feathers. Not good.

Next, I stained the top to match the pedestal legs. And while everyone else was helping themselves to lunch, I sealed it with several coats of poly-whatever...the stinky stuff. Then it was "in again, in again, to cook a fat hen." Ok, not really a fat hen, but certainly a mother lode of food.

FIRST, I showered. THEN while some were napping and some were reading, I mixed up some ginger cookie dough, and a crustless spinach quiche & muffins for tonight's dinner. Also, I went ahead and assembled the roast beef pitas with horseradish cream sauce for tomorrow's lunch.

By the time I took the quiche and muffins out of the oven, the cookie dough was chilled enough for me to work with. And by "work with" of course, I mean: roll into cute little balls while beating off the buzzards with a wooden spoon. "Just ONE more bite, Mom...PLEASE!!!"

As soon as I cleaned up the kitchen from cooking, everyone helped me move the table inside. We all agreed it is quite lovely. After the second of two wiffle ball games, I served dinner and finally cleaned up the kitchen fer realzies.

The girls all got baths, and books, and bed. The fellas got Ranger play-by-play and hopefully showers on their own time. Now I sit. Arms sore. Shoulders sore. Honestly, my pinkies are even sore.

I must be a colossal wimp.

A colossal wimp whose home is filled with the aroma of sheer productivity (not to be confused with the poly-whatever:) and a hint of warm ginger.

mmmmmm...good:)

Thank You, God, for today. Thank You for my wonderfully flexible kids who can function happily while mommy works the day away. Thank You for our home. Thank You for calling me to manage and serve. You are so wise. Blessings!

Friday, August 13, 2010

GirlTalk

As the girls were watching a televised Jonas Brothers' Concert, Mari marveled at the singers' enthusiasm: "Man, that guy in the middle is totally freaking out, huh?" To which Ashlin graciously replied "Well, he IS in the middle of an important performance with a million screaming girls." (let's give him a tiny break, people!)

When I mentioned to Ardyn that she could be a pilot someday, she confidently replied, "Oh, no...I'm going to live a simple life as a country girl...and go shopping a lot!" (she's gonna have to call me, & let me know how that works out:)

Monday, August 09, 2010

Face Time

I spent some time on facebook tonight for the first time in months. I smarted off to a few relatives, giggled at how similar Mommy's lives seem to be...nationwide. And then I discovered some heartbreaking news about a childhood friend. That hour of my life stretched the limits of emotions.

With last-minute redemption, I learned of a new song Cindy Foote has written. It is precious.

You may share in the beauty at her blog, "This Poetic Present".

Enjoy!

Elsewhere

That pretty much sums up my summer. Though I've not travelled abroad, my journeys have been far and wide.

I haven't had a chance to upload my photos, so you are welcome to scoot over to my friend, Kathy's blog for an update of last week....at least for one Johnson darling. (Thanks Kath for being on top of things...and I'm not just talkin' couch cushions:)

Thank You, God, for music. Not to us, Oh Lord...but to Your Name be glory!

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Silver Lining

Would you believe THIS was the only option at the rental company??
Zoe & Ardyn couldn't either.
But they made the best of it ALL weekend long:)

Thank You, God, for lavishing Your love upon us. And thank You for shiny sportscars too. Thank You for keeping our family in Your safety as we spent precious time apart. You love us well.

Photos from Virginia

Running out with the Lone Star flag.
The wind-up.
The nasty junk.
My favorite photo of my little man.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Friday Favorite

Philip asked the simple question, "Are we planning to go next weekend?"
After last week's scheduling overload, my knee jerk response was, "PLANNING??? Ummm I don't do that anymore!"

But NOT planning is a horrible way to live, so we press on!

Indeed, one of my favorite things is planning.

Philip would say I spend tons of time planning many wonderful things...leaving myself very little time to actually DO them.

I like organizing a room more than cleaning it.

I like making a grocery list more than going to the actual store.

I like planning out a chore chart more than enforcing it.

I like scheduling the semester more than taking grades.

I like budgeting a project more than saving up the money.

I like listing errands more than running them.

I like brainstorms more than elbow grease.

I'm determined to work on improving my follow-through and stamina, but once I've arrived at a beautiful plan, the fun of life sorta fizzles out. Not really. But sometimes, it feels like it.

This month I am in the midst of Mega-Planning and I love it!
A new year of school.
A new season of Children's Choir.
A brand new project for Women's Ministry.
Some make-shift scheduling for Pseudo-MOPs.
Surely there's one more...

I feel SO ALIVE!!!!(tee-hee)

Dear Lord, I feel the gravity of the proverb, "Man makes his plans, but the Lord orders his steps." Please keep me sensitive to Your work around me. Use me. Thank You for making me this way...I totally enjoy it:) Give me Your strength and wisdom and inSpiration. I love working for You. Thank You for working through me.
I trust in You alone.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Camptown Races

Last week while Ardyn was at dance camp, we stayed in town to play at the park.
Ash & Liz warming up.
Sneaky Mari.
And Luke is off to the races!
Landen's tiger stalls out.
Mari Alice with a winning smile:)

Sunday, August 01, 2010

He Leadeth Me

And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought.
-Isaiah 58:11

Wherever He may guide me,
No want shall turn me back;
My Shepherd is beside me,
And nothing can I lack.
His wisdom ever waketh, His sight is never dim -
He knows the way He taketh,
And I will walk with Him.
-Anna L. Waring

Abandon yourself to His care and guidance, as a sheep in the care of a shepherd, and trust Him utterly. No matter though you may seem to yourself to be in the very midst of a desert, with nothing green about you, inwardly or outwardly, and may think you will have to make a long journey before you can get into the green pastures. Our Shepherd will turn that very place where you are into green pastures, for He has power to make the desert rejoice and blossom as a rose.
-H.W. Smith

Friday, July 30, 2010

Diamond in the Sky

Landen played Dixie league baseball here in Marshall last Spring. (A VERY long time ago, it seems:) He made the all-star team and began traveling with the team to tournaments. They ended up as Texas state champs...and we used the word "ended" in a very "fresh start-ish" way. He and Philip & Ardyn left Thursday morning at 5 for Virginia where the fun continues at the Dixie World Series.


Home Run Derby & Skills Contests will fill the day Friday followed by an honors banquet that evening. They are guaranteed games Saturday and Sunday and we'll see how it goes from there. Championship game is Wednesday night.



When we asked Landen what he needed from us as parents -thinking he would ask us to travel with him to cheer him on - he replied, "I just need you to pray for me. This will be a big chance for me to get out in the world, but I'll probably face temptation or challenges, and I just need you to pray for me."


I think LP is an all-star in ways far beyond the baseball diamond.

Thank You, God, for my precious young man. Hold him and keep him and make him more like you.

"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus...Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life!" - Philippians 2:5,14-16

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Do What?

Plan A was a thing of beauty. It had held firm for months.

Last week, due to some exhilarating transpirations, we were forced to come up with a new plan. We wanted to do the "right thing". We wanted to follow God's leadership. We were "torn". If I heard my husband say "I'm just torn," once...

Plans B - Q replaced each other faster than you can sing "elemenopy".

Plans R, T & W brought marital strife, while S, U, V & X are not even worth mentioning. Plans Y and Z were just plain silly. Ridiculous, in fact.

Plan AA was fantastic...as long as money was no object and we could figure out how to be in two places at once.

Plans BB-EE sounded too familiar to Plans B-E to be considered seriously.

Plan FF was finalized yesterday morning, then fell through.
Plan GG was finalized yesterday at noon, then fell through.
Plan HH was finalized yesterday at noon-thirty, but in true form, fell through.

I can imagine an angel, poised and ready to bring be great tidings of procedure and plan...as God holds him back. "Nope, wait just a sec...watch her...she's turning another page on that little yellow pad of hers...Isn't she the cutest thing? Let's give her time to try it on her own ONE more time...I want her to be able to SEE the cardboard THROUGH the last page of yellow lines...it'll be great, you'll see."

That's when I formulated Plan II... which consisted of several tears and a coping nap. [Plan : I, I, can't even handle this anymore!]

Yesterday afternoon, God stepped in and worked a succession of miracles to meet our needs and direct our steps. It was the most amazing thing. His plan has been in the works for months, even years. His plan includes far more of His children than I would or could have enlisted. His plan is not concrete. Even today, details continue to be altered....while all my concerns continue to be altared.

I almost feel a tiny bit sorry for laid-back, people. Those folks, who roll with the punches, fly by the seat of their pants while letting junk roll off their duck-inspired backs, and then sleep deeply and effortlessly despite not knowing how it's all gonna work out...I wonder if they possess adequate appreciation for this particular aspect of God's character:)

Do oblivious souls, er, I mean, flexible, non-control-freakish types - do they know what a big deal this is? I understand. I know -in earthly shadows, with veiled perception - all that it takes to coordinate and orchestrate and prioritize and organize a group of people through the completion of inter-related, yet mutually exclusive activties. To some extent, I do it every day.

So when God - in His infinite wisdom, careful concern, and supernatural skill - when God lays out such a beautiful and well-designed plan, I stand in awe. I worship Him for His unending kindness and remarkable administration of order and grace.

Thank You, God, for being patient with me, even when I'm not patient. Thank You for having a perfect plan when all of my plans are heart-breakingly flawed. You are my One and Only:)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook



FOR TODAY Tuesday, July 27, 2010...

Outside my window...steam. Like the air hovering above a pot of boiling eggs...stifling, sulfuric steam. Anyone up for a walk around the block?? I didn't think so.

I am remembering...how often I've been rescued from my own foolishness - presumably by the fervent prayers of others. Mercy.

I am thankful for...my sweet, sweet husband. (I couldn't bear to delete that line from last time. He's simply the best.)

I am creating...a brand new publication for the women's ministry at church. God is gathering up a team of friendly helpers, and I can barely contain my excitement!

I am going...go pick up the boys later and stop by the consignment shop. On his way to work, Philip dropped them by a friends house to do some yard work. Dear Lord, help them work peaceably and diligently.

I am reading..."Boomtown Book 1" to the kids [they would like to go on record as being fairly miffed at my recent lack of consistency and follow-through] AND I'm also journeying through "So Long Insecurity" during welcomed spurts of solitude. I do not use the term 'journey' lightly. Pruning is painful. There is sheer joy beyond the pain, but the pain is undeniable.

I am hoping...God will work out all the comings and goings of our household over the next 10 days. He's the only one we can trust to tackle a job of this magnitude.

On my mind... MP3 children's choir. Women's Ministry. Philip. Fish Camp. Landen. Luke. Ardyn. Ashlin. Mari Alice. Elizabeth. even Oscar. aaaaand, we're back to MP3. Women in my life. Philip. Dinner. my bathroom counter. Ministry. practicing the piano. Fish Camp. Landen's team. Should I stop?

From the learning rooms...3 weeks until we fire it up "fer realzies". The year is planned. We own the curriculum. We'll just talk more about it after Mari & I have properly celebrated our late summer birthdays:)

Noticing that...God can be a funny guy. Somedays, He carries the "working in mysterious ways" thing to a comical level. I love Him to pieces...then have to trust He'll put it all back together. He shall:)


Pondering these words... "God uses change to change us. He doesn't use it to destroy us or to distract us but to coax us to the next level of character, experience, compassion, and destiny. How will we ever change if everything around us stays the same?" --Beth Moore

From the kitchen...breakfast on a "first-come-serve-yourself" basis:)

Around the house...girls are steadily rising from slumber with messy hair and grumbly tummies.

One of my favorite things...staying home. Yesterday was the first day all month I had the opportunity to stay home all day. I'm MUCH better now.

From my picture journal..."Miss SweetCheeks"


To participate or simply enjoy more daybooks, visit The Simple Woman.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Smaller May Be Better, Even in Texas

I am learning to love our little town.

Living among the same small group of folks for a number of years beefs up the statistics of having a friend when you need one.

I took our alluminum cans to be recycled this morning while Ardyn was at dance camp. I drove into the gravel drive of the scrap yard and wondered where to stop. Just then, I recognized an former collegue depositing some items from ETBU. I asked him if he knew where to take cans. Not only did he point me in the right direction, but he offered to carry the cumbersome box inside for me. He patiently accompanied me through the entire process then waved a cheerful good-bye as I returned to my car - $6 richer.

Thank You, God, for small-town people.

In our little town, there may not be very many big retail stores, but there are a few wonderfully small ones.

The local jeweler also has a bridal registry. So this morning, I was able to park at the door, and walk in to be immediately greeted by the sales associate. I handed her my rings so they could be cleaned while I bought the wedding gift. She handed them to the jeweler, then escorted me over to the houseware half of the store. I made my selection and followed her back to the cash register. Just as my sparkling rings were being returned to me, she sweetly offered, “Would you like me to have this gift wrapped and sent along to the shower?”

“Well, Yah!”

Thank You, God, for small-town places.

In our little city, there is plenty of room for excitement.

Landen's all-star team is headed to Virginia to represent Texas in the Dixie World Series. But with word spreading about such an honorable venture, there is a notable emphasis placed on township representation. Our son's picture is in the local paper, his name is mentioned on the local radio station, and he's even received requests for an autograph or two. This is a big important deal to Landen and our kind fellow-citizens are raising a comparable degree of happy fuss about it.

Thank You, God, for small-town publicity.

In our cozy burg, we rely on and enjoy each other's interests and talents.

Each morning, my girls have taken dance class from an energetically gifted lady from my Sunday School class. In the afternoons, Mari has received swim instruction from an old college chum. Each week I have two gallons of fresh cow's milk and a pound of farm fresh butter delivered to my house from a lady “south o' town”. Yesterday I took my children with me to a friend's neighbor and picked up a gallon of fresh goat's milk. They were able to hold the newborn twin bucks, and several baby rabbits. After offering the herd of goats some bread, each of my “kids” got a chance to milk a goat as well.

Thank You,God, for small-town pleasures.