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30 November 2009

... because of the things I do...

But for myself, I trust in the Lord in spite of the things I don’t understand about Him—because of the things I do understand about Him. And one of those things is that He looks at the heart of a matter and not just external appearances. Every one of us knows what it’s like to be in a situation that looks really, really bad, but onlookers are unaware of a few facts that would unfurl their eyebrows if they knew. What about the poor guy who walks into church on Sunday morning filthy because he stopped to help someone one the way who had a flat tire? I have been so sleep-deprived that I have nodded visibly through very good sermons.

- Andree Seu, Just One Thing: Chapter 20,, 30Nov2009

In the morning

Give ear to my words, O Lord, Consider my groaning.
Heed the sound of my cry for help, my King and my God,
For to Thee do I pray.
In the morning, O Lord, thou wilt hear my voice;
In the morning I will order my prayer to Thee and eagerly watch.
Psalm 5:1-5

I sing this Psalm in my head; I cannot simply recite it.  It is one of those Psalms that is familiar and comforting; one that I fall back on, time and time again.

Give ear to my words, O Lord,
Consider my meditation.
I do, this morning, consider Him- His goodness, His sovereignty, His provision, His faithfulness, His providence.
My meditation, my thoughts, many and scattered- the day ahead, the week, the month.  Things undone, big and small.  Relationships that need tending.  What is ahead, and what is behind.

Harken unto the voice of my cry,
my King and my God.
My insufficiency.  My dependence.  My inability to go this road alone.  My sin.  My need for a Savior.

For unto Thee will I pray,
My voice Thou shalt hear in the morning.
More so in the quiet and still of morning than any other time.  Waking even without an alarm.  Stumbling down to the table and the Word.  Watching dawn break and darkness turn to shadows as daylight rises. Images slowly become clear, and visible, and real. 
Speak, O Lord, for Your servant is listening. 

O Lord, in the morning, will I direct my prayer
Unto Thee, and will look up.

(photo credit to BBC News.  I suppose it is from England, but it looks like a scene from Nebraska, I think...)

29 November 2009

Behold, days are coming

'Behold, days are coming,' declares the LORD, 'when I will fulfill the good word which I have spoken concerning the house of Israel and the house of Judah.
'In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth.
'In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell in safety; and this is the name by which she will be called: the LORD is our righteousness.'
Jeremiah 33:14-16

"Advent is a period of preparation for Christmas but, unlike Lent, it is not a period of penance.  It is a period that focuses on joy...  We come to realize more each year how great our blessings, how beautiful is a life lived in concert with the Jesus who came to show us the way.  We learn the joy of anticipation, the joy of delighting in a sense of the presence of God all around us, the joy of looking for the second coming of Christ, the joy of living in the surety of even more life in the future."
Joan Chittister, The Liturgical Year

27 November 2009

December '09 Photo Project

December Photo ProjectLook!
A new photo assignment for December.
I'm participating in the December Photo Project, hosted by Rebecca @View from the Prairie Box. A photo for each day of December. Could be a challenge for this amateur, but a lot of fun as well.
Want to join in?

26 November 2009


As part of our Thanksgiving festivities yesterday (we feasted a day early this year), we stuck post-it notes, one for each letter of the alphabet, down our stairway, and everyone in the family noted what they were thankful for, A to Z. (We like A to Z around here! Annual Christmas letter coming soon!)

The "rules" were that you had to REALLY be thankful for it, not just write a word because it had the right letter. Then at dinner, we passed around the letters and read them out loud. There were a few questionable items (Underdog? The University of Washington football coach?), but we'll let them stay...

Here's the final results:
Ashley, animals, art, accordions, aunts, apples, air conditioning.
Babies, blessings, benefits, bananas, band-aids, Bible, blankets, baseball, Ben, Bob, bed, books, brothers, beds, boots.
Coffee, church, cake, cats, curry, chocolate, cousins, cute babies, carpet, clothes, Converse sneakers.
Dark chocolate, Dad, Dillon, dolls, dresses, doctors.
Eternity, educators, earth, elders, eggs, ears.
Faithfulness, freedom, friends, food, family, fall, fun, forgiveness, Floyds.
Grace, God, games, girls, grandparents.
Husband, Harper, home, hotels, hugs, heat, health, Hollidays, hope.
Ice cream, information, icees, Ichiro.
James (Jamie, Jimmigan), a job, juice, Jesus.
Keilah, kindness, kisses, kites, kit-kats.
Lydia, light, love, laughter, light bulbs, Life Is Good shirt, lattes.
Mercy, Mom, medicine, missionaries, marriage, morning, mashed potatoes, music.
Names, naps, night, Nanny, Nancy Drew computer games, Nintendo DS, Nebraska football, nighttime, Nebraska.
Ocean, oceanside living, outside, oranges, onion roll ups.
Peace, pie, people, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, parents, pens, pencils, Pastors.
Quiet, questions, quesadillas, Quick-Trip.
Relatives, a room, rain, rainboots, rice, rain forests.
Susannah, Sarah, Simply Limeade, spring, safe travel, siblings, sun, sewing stuff, sisters, Steve Sarkishian, S-girls, summer.
Tom, tylenol, tissues, turkey, trains, tv, teachers.
Underwear, Underdog, uncles, undersea animals, umbrellas.
Vaseline, Valentines Day, vacuum, volleyball.
Water, waffles, watermelon, Warriors, winter.
eXpressways, X-Games, X-rays.
Yummy food, youth, yellow, yams.
Zeal! Zotz, zoo, zebras, ZacAttack.

But mostly, we echo the song of Psalm 100, as we give thanks to the Lord for all of His blessings to us:
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.

Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.

For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Happy Thanksgiving to your home, too.

25 November 2009

"to our beneficent Father"

...No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people; I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer to our beneficent Father, who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to him that, for such singular deliverances and blessings; they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.

- President Abraham Lincoln's Proclamation of Thanksgiving, October 3, 1863

(photo credit: Matthew Brady, ca. 1863, from the George Eastman House Collection, found on Flickr)

Simple. And profound.

It came as I was thinking about what it might look like for me to remember Christ in the moments when I am tempted to hold a grudge or be ungrateful, critical, graceless, or just plain ol' mean. I thought to myself, "What does mercy look like in this moment? What would it mean to actually breathe grace / live the gospel / be a Christian in this moment?"

- Tara Barthel, from her blog, Considerable Grace, November 25, 2009

24 November 2009

Lovely beyond any singing of it

There is a lovely road that runs from Ixopo into the hills. These hills are grass-covered and rolling, and they are lovely beyond any singing of it. The road climbs seven miles into them, to Carisbrooke; and from there, if there is no mist, you look down on one of the fairest valleys of Africa. About you there is grass and bracken and you may hear the forlorn crying of the titihoya, one of the birds of the veld. Below you is the valley of the Umzimkulu, on its journey from the Drackensberg to the sea; and beyond and behind the river, great hill after great hill; and beyond and behind them, the mountains of Ingeli and East Griqualand.
-Alan Paton, Cry the Beloved Country (1948)

That is, I think, one of the finest opening paragraphs in literature. Oh the picture it paints in my mind!

(photo credit of the Ixopo valley to riesergal on Flickr)

22 November 2009

Pie Day!

70 pies in one afternoon!
Apple, Cherry-Cherry, Pecan and Pumpkin.
Homemade crust and homemade filling.
And a LOT of love.

Oh how I was blessed!
These special ladies gathered together to make Holliday Pies. They sold them to benefit the funds my family is gathering to get to work in missions at the eastern end of the US/Mexico border. That they would give up time on a Saturday to do that for us, I am humbled!

And the pies looked amazing! And smelled amazing!

You ladies are our heroes. A million and one thanks!

20 November 2009

It's Magic

Dear Mr. Clean,

How do you do it?
Oh, I know.  You've been the Mister of Clean for many years now.  But the Magic Eraser tops them all. 

That Magic Eraser.
It has made my walls clean.
It has made my doorjams clean.
And my kids are scrambling over who gets to Magic(ly) Erase(r) next.

Oh Mr. Clean.
If only you had something to Magic(ly) Erase(r) the piles of paperwork around my house...

Always yours,
A wonderous homemaker.

19 November 2009

Three Things Thursday

Three random things on a Thursday...
1.  "I said, hey,you know, breakdowns come and breakdowns go. So what are you going to do about it, that's what I'd like to know..."  Paul Simon, Gumboots  (from Graceland), 1986.
Breakdowns.  Computers.  Dishwasher.  Car radio.  Ice maker.  I'm thankful for my husband and duct tape.

2.  Shots from the ESL (English as a Second Language) Thanksgiving dinner.  Oh what a sweet time!  The 100 or so folks that we expected, little by little as internationals are known to do, and a providential amount of food to feed them all.  Hero volunteers.  Gracious hospitality.  Cute kids.  A glimpse of Eternity today.
(photo credits to my personal photog, my k)

3. One of my all-time favorite candy, Zots, now available at the checkout line of a nearby grocery store.  Fizzy fruity goodness.  It's the little things, you know... 


18 November 2009

Grin of the Day

(credit to Pickles by Brian Crane)

Some People

We read this poem in school yesterday.  The kids told me that I shouldn't put it on the blog because it might offend people.  I'm putting it on the blog because I like it, not to make a specific statement.

I do enjoy Rachel Field...

Some People
Isn't it strange some people make
You feel so tired inside,
Your thoughts begin to shrivel up
Like leaves all brown and dried!

But when you're with some other ones,
It's stranger still to find
Your thoughts as thick as fireflies
All shiny in your mind!
-Rachel Field

(photo credit to DS's Photostream on Flickr)

17 November 2009

Love the Pie! (Chocolate Pecan Pie)

Thanks to Megan at HalfPintHouse, I found the Love the Pie Party over at Tidy Mom.

I do love the pie!
I learned about pie from my grandma.  Her apple pie is perhaps one of my favorite childhood memories.  She would make cinnamon crispies or jelly turnovers with leftover crust.
Pie, hot out of the oven.  Cold pie for breakfast the next morning.   

My husband's grandma Lorraine, she was a terrific pie maker, too.  She shared her secrets with me, which must not be SO secret because they were the same secrets my grandma shared- only Crisco in the crust, cold water, roll on a wooden board. 

I love pie, almost any pie.  I confess, I don't really care for banana cream, and I faked liking it for grandma Lorraine.  But that's more about bananas than pie...

This Saturday afternoon, you will find me in our church kitchen, making pie with a bunch of other ladies.  These ladies are blessing our socks off.  They are making pies to sell, to benefit the funds we're raising to get to the mission field.  Blessing pie!

So, back in Blogland, TidyMom is asking for our favorite pie recipes.  There is nothing special about my apple pie (I don't even use a recipe) or my pumpkin pie (I generally use the back of the pumpkin can with a few extra spices thrown in).  I love to make peach pie and strawberry rhubarb pie in the summertime.  But I found a Great Thanksgiving Pie in The County Fair Cookbook, Kentucky Bourbon Pecan Pie from Jeanne Kemper of Shelbyville, Kentucky.  It's rich.  And it's good!  Don't forget the whipped cream!

Kentucky Bourbon Pecan Pie
Makes 1 pie
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans (I use halves)
2 T. Kentucky bourbon
a 9 inch unbaked pie shell

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1.  Place nuts and chocolate chips in bottom of the pie shell.
2.  In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugar.  Gradually beat in the melted butter and corn syrup.  Stir in the bourbon. 
3.  Pour the mixture over the nuts and chocolate chips in the pie shell.  Bake for 40-50 minutes until the filling is somewhat set.  (judging doneness is tricky business!  I usually err on the side of more firm!)

For more tempting pie recipes, be sure to visit Tidy Mom!
(photo credit: HEY!  LOOK!  Paula Deen and I have almost the same recipe...)

16 November 2009

A Noble Munificent Grace

Love is not only full of benvolence, but beneficence.  Love which enlarges the heart never straitens the hand.  He that loves Christ will be liberal to His members.  He will be eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame.  The backs and bellies of the poor shall be the furrows where he sows the golden seeds of liberality.  Some say they love God, but their love is lame of one hand, they give nothing to good uses.  Indeed faith deals with invisibles, but God hates that love which is invisible.  Love is like new wine, which will have vent; it vents itself in good works.  The apostle speaks it in honour of the Macedonians, that they gave to the poor saints, not only up to, but beyond their power (2Cor.8.3).  Love is bred at court, it is a noble munificent grace.
- Thomas Watson, All Things for Good (1663)

(art credit:  Giovanni di Balduccio, Charity, c. 1330, from the National Gallery of Art)

Not career or housework...

"I just don't know if we have the time for a trip to France right now," I sighed.  Paul nodded.

But then we looked at each other and repeated a favorite phrase from our diplomatic days:  "Remember, 'No one's more important than people!" In other words, friendship is the most important thing- not career or housework, or one's fatigue- and it needs to be tended and nurtured.  So we packed up our bags and off we went.  And thank heaven we did!

from My Life in France by Julia Child, with Alex Prud'homme

(photo:  Julia and Paul Child, from an earlier cover of My Life in France)

09 November 2009

Simple- 9 November 2009

Outside my window... pale blues and grays of dawn; stark, bare tree branches; calm and serene. I am thinking... about the words of the Lord in Hosea 2:19-20-
"And I will betroth you to Me forever;
Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice,
In lovingkindness and in compassion,
And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness,
Then you will know the Lord.
I am thankful for... the truth of this quote from John Stott, "Forgiveness eradicates our past, and the Spirit transforms our future." 
From the learning rooms... looking at China, Korean folk tales, Spanish vocabulary...
From the kitchen... vegetable soup in the crock pot for dinner tonight.
I am wearing... pj's.  Don't come over yet, ok?  :-)
I am creating... plans, for today, for the week, for ESL...
I am going... to Maryland tomorrow, for a week of observing ESL ministries and for more training.  I'm excited!
I am reading... All Things for Good by Thomas Watson and My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud'Homme
I am hoping... to be efficient today; to finish the necessary to be able to meet with friends; that all of my ESL staff is healthy.
I am hearing... the upstairs floorboards creaking; a bird chirping; keyboard taps.
Around the house... the majority still sleep.
One of my favorite things... the house before everyone wakes up!
A few plans for the rest of the week: travel, learning, meeting new people.
Here is picture for thought I am sharing... since ESL is so much on my mind today, here's a picture of one my girls with two Sudanese friends...

Thanks to Peggy for hosting the Simple Woman's Daybook. Take time to visit more entries here.

03 November 2009

The morns are meeker than they were

Came across this piece of poetry, particularly timely, in school last week...

The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry's cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.

The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown,
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I'll put a trinket on.

- Emily Dickinson

(photo credit- me.)