Saturday, December 31, 2011
Kid number one is home from college and had a great idea - go out for pizza tonight. And then he had another great idea. Kid number one thinks his Dad and I should get a hobby, maybe because we only have 8.5 years before all of the kiddos fly the coop. Speaking of flying, that's what the kid (soon to head off to aviation school) thinks his Dad and I should take up for our shared hobby. That's not gonna happen, but I did come across a list of a few, or 238 possible hobbies for me and my willing(?) spouse to check out.
Here's a sneak peek:
#13 - badminton
#39 - building a doll house
And that's just from the B's! It should be a fun, interesting and maybe even enlightening year for me and my hubby. We are planning our first hobby adventure tomorrow. Bring it on.....2012, The Year of the Hobby.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
The first time I remember being aware of this particular way of His to bestow a blessing on me in neon sign fashion (or as my husband says, knocking us over the head with a two by four) was in the middle of June, 2004. My mother and mother-in-law had just died, both losing the battle cancer within hours of each other. In a whirlwind of airplane rides, visitations, memorials, funerals and burials, I was unable to even begin to comprehend what had just happened. Our moms were both so young, vibrant, needed and loved - they were just 56 & 59 years old.
It wasn't until we finally arrived home, weeks later, that I began to try to make sense of what we had just experienced. Although, brought up in the church, my faith was still young and immature. I rarely opened a Bible, and we were still church hoppers.
On that June afternoon, some 17 years ago, I vividly recall the thoughts that were running through my head as I unpacked my bag. Those thoughts were pretty much boiled down to "What is this whole thing we call life all about??? What's the point?"
My suitcase was on the bed, and once emptied, I zipped it closed and lifted it up at exactly the moment I had placed a question mark on my thoughts. At that precise moment, I looked down to see something small and shiny on the quilt of my bed, right where my suitcase had been lying.
It appeared to be a small silver, broken piece of jewelry - shaped in a circle with two hands holding a heart and a crown on top of the heart. I recognized it and knew it was Irish but did not know what it signified - not to the Irish anyway, but I certainly knew what it meant to me.
God was blessing me with this little reminder. I asked of no one in particular and He answered me directly - "It's all about love, family and the Kingdom of God." At the time, I didn't bother to look up the meaning behind this Irish symbol (the claddagh) because it didn't matter what anyone else thought, I knew what it meant to me. (And this was pre-Google, pre-internet).
Incidentally, I called all of my family to see if anyone would claim this little piece of jewelry or knew if it broke off of something that belonged to my mother. No one knew where it came from - it just somehow fell from its little hiding spot on my suitcase, exactly when I needed to see it. I may not know where this little silver blessing came from, but I certainly know and trust the One who placed it there.
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Despite this, God used this lowly self-centered, runaway prophet to spread His word to a multitude (like 600,000) of pagan worshiping Assyrians. And they listened too!
God can use anyone to accomplish his will. If he wants to use you to reach the lost, He can go ahead of you and prepare the way, just as He did in Jonah's case - having Jonah be swallowed by a great fish just before he was to preach to a nation who were fish-god worshipers. Brilliant!
If God asks you to go, go.....wherever......across the street, across the nation or across the ocean. Save yourself the trouble of ending up in the belly of a fish and just go. If God would prepare a way for Jonah, the runaway prophet, He will prepare a way for you. As Jonah learned, you can run from God, but you cannot hide.
Say yes, pray and just go.
And here's a silly, little limerick that popped in my head, all except for the last line.
There once was a prophet named Jonah
Who when God said to go said "I ain't gonah"
Time spent in a fish
Helped him follow God's wish
Ta da da da, da da da da onah ----- (this is your line to complete.)
Saturday, August 20, 2011
While helping build a house for Habitat for Humanity is a good and noble thing to do, there are other ways to serve, even if you are stuck in your house monitoring two children who are pretending to clean their rooms. This is the way I chose:
And these are the cute little mini-cupcake papers I intended to sit my Cake Pops in, but unfortunately I oversized my Pops, so instead of nesting in the cupcake papers, they smush'em. Guess I'll have to give this another try or make some super cute mini-cupcakes.
And here's my little disclaimer in case any of my friends from church are reading this: I cannot guarantee the integrity of these Cake Pops. All I know is that they taste good, but I do not know if after one bite, they will come tumbling off their cute little lollipop stick. Eat with care and be ready to catch the falling pieces.
If you want to try these yourself, I found my recipe in Cake Pops, by Bakerella. Mine were made with store bought cake mix and store bought icing - which is what is recommended in the book. She also has a website where you can learn the basic technique. As for me, I don't think there will be any fancy Cake Pops in my future, but they sure are fun to look at.
fyi: I checked out Cake Pops from my library, but I've also seen it for sale at Lowe's. Who knew? Maybe there is some weird connection between building a house and making a Cake Pop?
Thursday, August 18, 2011
(The popsicles that aren't linked to another website are just my own creations, no real recipes, just a bunch of ingredients and a blender)
- don't skimp on the simmering for the fudgsicles or they may taste a little "powdery", or so say my taste testers. Didn't bother me any and powdery or not, they still prefer these to store bought
- anything you use to make a smoothie could be put in a popsicle mold
- on the strawberry shortcake, they look pretty with layers, but are so much easier to just swirl the strawberries into the vanilla mixture
- any popsicles you want to swirl, like my cantaloupe with raspberry swirl, will swirl better in a small dixie cup, rather than a mold, but oh.... I do love my molds.
-try blending various yogurts, fruit and if you like a little crunchy surprise, drop in a few chunks of Golden Oreos.
-I find that my popsicles that have some dairy in them are much less icy than the straight fruit.
Friday, August 12, 2011
"Do you like enchiladas?"
"I love enchildadas!"
"Me too! Let's sing a song about enchiladas."
"Enchiladas, enchiladas, how I love enchiladas....."
The funny thing is that there was only one person (a young child who shall remain unnamed) in this conversation. Should I worry or should I just make enchiladas?
I'm going with the enchiladas and here is my favorite enchilada recipe, from Mary at Owlhaven.
Monday, August 8, 2011
We returned from a whirlwind week of visitations, memorial and funeral serves, spread out over 3 states and everyday life began again. That's when the anger stage set in - real life began and my Mom wasn't there at the end of the phone line. The kids were doing cute things and hitting milestones and who would I call that really cared like their Granny did? God was not my friend at that point in my life. We weren't all that close to begin with and now he had really messed up things for me and I wasn't speaking with him.
It took years to gain back my voice. Years and a series of events and people that God put in my path to teach me not only how to pray again, but how to really, truly pray. How to talk with God without any concerns about what exactly is the right thing to say. How to know God well enough to have him as my closest friend, one that I can confide anything in.
These days, I pray in so many ways and I know that they are all good and pleasing to God. I pray in a constant stream of chatter that goes on in my head. I pray memorized prayers. I pray with my children and husband. I pray in color when I use my markers on paper to keep me focused on a certain scripture or prayer request. I pray through the labyrinth, though I usually get lost, at least I am lost in prayer. I still pray my "Dear God...." letter-type prayers. I pray in nature, I pray in the car, I pray in the shower. I pray when I am happy and I pray when I am mad. I pray for myself, I pray for others and I pray for our world.
Prayer is just my conversation with God and now that I have finally figured that out, I no longer try to fit it into a little box of correct and incorrect ways to pray. I lift up my voice to the Lord in all sorts of ways. And when I'm doing really well, I remember to stop and listen to what God has to say to me. That's not my strongest point right now. I'm still working on it, but I know I can ask for help with that too and God will provide.
And that is the evolution of my prayer life, so far......
Thursday, July 21, 2011
In case I didn't mention it before, the writings that I am posting were written in a "course" that I took called Soul Design, based on the book by Rev. Martha Frizlanger. The weekly assignments follow the order of service and the suggested writing activities are based on that. It seemed an overwhelming task at first, but each week, when I would sit and ponder and pray, God would just send the memories and words flowing back to me as I needed them. It was really an amazing process to get out of the way and let God send the stories and the words. So much easier than when I try to be completely in charge.
Turns out that I am as wordy on paper as I am in real life and since I prefer to read blogs that are written in bite size morsels (yes, I am a food blog junkie), I have broken my writings into several parts, so you'll need to start with part one of each topic if you want it to make more sense.
I had planned to give you an overview of the topics for each week, but I cannot find my Soul Design book. Might have something to do with the kids being home from school for the summer, or maybe I just misplace things. I'm going with number A, but I've been wrong before.
My hope in sharing these assignments on the webosphere is that maybe my faith journey sounds familiar to someone else, or interesting and causes someone to want to dig a little deeper and open their Bible or find a church. That's my hope.
So anyway, school starts in 3 weeks, and unless I decide to do something crazy like begin homeschooling again, I should be able to post more regularly by then. By the way, this "course" was done in a small group, just like a Bible study. If you are interested in having a group of your own do a Soul Design study, I can let you know how to find the book. Once I find my own :)
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Beema had been doing so well that we were not prepared to learn the news that the cancer had returned and this time with a vengeance. There must have been a renegade cell left behind after surgery and it had spread throughout her body. There was no fighting it this time. Hospice was called in. Steve flew to upstate New York to be with his mom and a short time later she fell into a coma.
This was not at all what we were expecting. By now, you'd have thought I would have learned not to answer the phone. But I hadn't learned that lesson, so I picked up the receiver the next day to hear Pere (my step-Dad) on the other end. He and my mom were at the ocean house, about 3 hours from Baltimore, but were heading back home early because Mom was having trouble breathing. He'd call me after they saw the doctor.
God blessed me with some wonderful friends in Tennessee. Here I was, husband at his mother's side while she was slowly fading away, two small children at home, and my mom, possibly having complications from the disease that I had hoped she had kicked in the butt. I needed to be in Baltimore to know what was going on and my friends knew that. They swooped in and took care of everything on the homefront, including our kids, who were 4&2 years old, and they put me on a plane and told me not to worry about a thing. If you looked up Godsend in the dictionary, you would see a picture of these friends.
While I was in the air, somewhere between Tennessee and Maryland, my mom was being admitted to the hospital. I arrived at her bedside in time to have a few hours with her before she lost consciousness. She died the next morning, June 9th, at 9 AM, with her husband and children around her bedside.
I called Steve from in NY. His mom was still clinging to life, though she had not been conscious for sometime. Steve left his brother and sister to keep vigil over their mom, not knowing how much longer she'd hang on, and flew to Baltimore to be with me and my family as we prepared for my mom's funeral. Steve's mom passed a short time later, in the wee morning hours of June 1oth. Not even 24 hours after my mom had died.
That was it. Either I lost my voice or I was so mad at God that I just couldn't speak to him. Who loses two grandmas in one day?????
to be continued (and concluded - really)
Friday, June 24, 2011
Now seems like a good time for a recipe. One with chocolate. One that brings back memories of my mother. I could have made this for my morning Soul Design class because it is traditionally called a coffee cake, but in my book it was called the yearly, most favored and requested, birthday cake. Most of my kids request this same cake for their birthday. Goes great with vanilla ice cream and candles!
and b) Use a little less layer on the bottom layer so you'll have an easier time spreading the top layer over the chocolate, cinnamon yummy goodness in the middle. This is the voice of experience speaking.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
I struggled to pray during that time. If my prayer life was aimless or haphazard before, it was downright stifled during the time my mom was fighting that battle. When I should have been praying the deepest, most sincere prayers that I could offer up, I was instead paralyzed with fear about what to say to God.
Should I ask God to cure my mom and keep her here on earth where I needed her? Part of me could not give voice to those words because I could hardly admit that losing her was a possibility. A bigger part of me was afraid to ask for something that I wanted so, so badly, but that God might very well say "no" to.
How would I live with God if he didn't give me this one thing - my mom to watch her grandchildren grow up. She told her doctors that she intended to get better because she planned to dance at her grandkids weddings.
So, I didn't pray for God to cure my Mom's cancer. Instead, I prayed for courage - for my mom, me, Steve, my step-Dad and brothers and sisters. I prayed for strength and wisdom. I prayed for everything I thought we would need to fight the battle, but I didn't pray to be victorious.
In April of the following year, about 8 months after being diagnosed with cancer, my mom called and told me she might be in remission. She'd have another MRI in July to determine if what the doctors saw was just scar tissue or still active cancer.
The next month, my mom threw a big 9oth birthday bash for her mother, my grandmother. Carly and I flew to Baltimore to join the party. We were 4 generations - ages 90, 56, 33 and 2, celebrating life together, along with lots of family and friends. My mom looked great! She floated around the banquet hall, visiting with all of her cousins and long-time family friends. It seemed as if God had answered the prayer that I was afraid to pray. I returned home with hope in my heart.
to be continued.......
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Bless us, O Lord, for these thy gifts.......
"Why do we freeze the gifts?", my sister wanted to know.
Dear God, Please help me ace this test. Amen
These were the prayers of my childhood. In the years after I grew up and moved out of my family home, I don't remember exactly what shape my prayer life took. I mostly remember either saying prayers of thanksgiving or intercessory prayers (not that I knew what that word meant at the time).
I thought it was much better to pray for someone else rather than for yourself, which at the time seemed a little self-centered to me. There was no notion of "praying without ceasing" in my life.
Fast forward several years. Steve and I were a young couple, married only 4 years when we got a phone call that would rock our world and kick our prayer life into gear. His mother (Beema to our kids) had cancer. Although, we had been praying with our two kiddos (age 2 &4) at meals and bedtime, our personal prayers had always been private. That's how we were both raised to pray. The news that came over the phone line spurred us to pray out loud together for the first time. Afterwards, we continued to mostly offer up silent prayers for God to take care of Steve's mom.
One month after receiving Beema's diagnosis, our little family of four headed north, from Nashville to Baltimore. I stayed with my family while Steve continued on to New York to be with his Mom during surgery. We were all relieved to finally hear that all went well during surgery, the cancer was contained and Beema was "as good as new."
It seemed our prayers had been answered! After the good news had sunk in, my Mom took me aside and casually mentioned that she was going to have a surgery too. Exploratory surgery. She'd been having a little pain that she attributed to a golf injury, but since it hadn't healed, the doctors wanted to take a look. She hadn't even planned to tell me, but her best friend talked her into it and told my Mom that I'd probably want to be there. So, surprise - my Mom was having surgery a day before I headed back to Nashville.
Since her doctors apparently weren't too alarmed, neither was I. Although the pain was in her rib area, there was no reason to expect anything dramatic to be going on. My mom had no risk factors for anything lung related and she certainly didn't have any risk factors for lung cancer, other than the fact that she had lungs.
Steve took the kids that day, while my family and I hung out at the hospital, reading, joking around and enjoying our next to last day together. The mood in the waiting room shifted immediately when the doctor entered. He was a big, jovial, red-headed guy, but the look on his face, when he entered that room, told us everything we needed to know. Not only did my mom have lung cancer, but it was very advanced and the prognosis wasn't good.
This was my mom who ate more broccoli than anyone I knew. My mom who never smoked a day in her life and never lived with a smoker either. My mom who was my best friend, who adored my husband and thought her two grandchildren hung the moon. This was not going the way I had planned it and at that moment, prayer was the last thing on my mind. What was God thinking!
To be continued.......
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
What is the point of rsvp'ing yes and then continually forgetting to show up for the party?
How late is too late to arrive?
Mine has been a slow, slow faith journey. It's not because God hadn't extended the invitation over and over again. From the time I was young and attending a Catholic church with my family to the the time I was a teen going to Bible study at a friend's Presbyterian church, God was there. He was there on that June day when I lost my mom to cancer and again the next day when my mother-in-law lost that same battle. God's been there and many times in between, inviting me to fellowship with Him.
What changed? There were a lot of factors that came together and encouraged me to open the invitation and really read it again. One was that I was hearing or seeing other people who were at the party and it made me want to have that experience too. And there were also things that happened in my life that made escaping to a party seem like a good plan.
I finally figured out that I had to actually read the invitation to understand what the party was all about. Ten years ago I picked up my Bible , after a long hiatus, and started to read and understand what the invitation that God had extended to me meant. The more I read, the more intrigued I became.
That's when life started getting really interesting.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in....
To be continued.............