Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dear Jessica,

You have been working so hard this last week and I want you to know how proud I am of you.

I know that this research paper is about to do you in but keep persevering. Late nights of reading, writing, and watching documentaries will soon be over and you will be able to get back to the things you enjoy doing most. I know you don't want to hear me to tell you that this is making you a better person, that you are gaining so much by the work you are putting forth, that you are stretching yourself by learning something new- something that will one day be of benefit, and that you truly will have a sense of accomplishment when it is all said and done.

The end is near my sweet girl... keep pressing on!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Got Chocolate?

Need a quick and easy way to spruce up a regular ole' brownie? These are called Gianduja Bars from Giada @ Everyday Italian...

All I did was prepare a brownie mix (8x8 pan size so they are nice and thick) from the box and let them cool. I even think day old brownies work well. Cut brownies into squares and spread each brownie with Nutella (found in the peanut butter aisle). Sprinkle each of the brownies with chopped hazelnuts. Top the nuts with some mini chocolate chips. Place the brownies on a baking sheet and bake for 5-7 minutes at 375 degrees until the chocolate is starting to melt. Transfer the brownies to the refrigerator and let cool until the chocolate hardens, about one hour.

If you love chocolate, you will love these brownies. I promise. And don't forget the glass of milk.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Weekend Highlights...

Friday is Steve's day off, so we spent it relaxing, having lunch, and learning how to use my new lens for my camera. Friday night had dinner with some of my best girlfriends. Only a group of best friends can meet at Chili's at 6:30 and stay until almost 12:30.  I don't know what I would do without them. We talked about everything from books to marriages and everything in between.  I am so thankful to have these women in my life to encourage me, challenge me, share life with me, and to tell me that I am having a good hair day. I love you girls!

Saturday was spent at the baseball field as the team took their first loss. The sun was shining, it was warm and I came home with quite a little sunburn. The rest of the day was filled with birthday parties and grilling out at my Mom and Dad's.

Church on Sunday where a group of people participated in doing a cardboard testimony. (If you haven't heard or seen this, go to YouTube). It was AMAZING! 

Came home and took a much needed afternoon nap, watched baseball, had ice cream sundaes for dinner, sat outside and watched the boys play, and talked with Jessica about what God is doing in her life. 

Hope you had a great weekend and that your week is off to a great start!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Love One Another...

I recently finished reading Brennan Manning's new book entitled The Furious Longing of God. Here lately, God has really been challenging me in what true, authentic discipleship and love looks like. The words on the pages of this book were yet another way God is speaking to me about this. These are truths and concepts that I know and have believed for a long time. Now, they are becoming to mean so much more to me. I accepted Christ 18 years ago, but lately God seems to be stirring some really big heart issues up in me. I am thankful for this new spiritual awakening. What He is telling me and showing me is that when awareness comes, it is time to act upon it.

When I am honest, I admit that I have played the church game. There have been times more often than I would like to admit that I just go through the motions. I go to church every Sunday with my Bible in hand. Worship songs and hymns have been listened to and sung enough times that I have the words memorized. I've led Bible studies, been involved in different ministries and shared my testimony. I read my Bible and pray. I am married to a pastor if that can even top it all off. These disciplines and opportunities to be involved within the body of Christ are extremely important in the life as a believer, I know that. I think that so many of us upon receiving Christ have this mindset of when we have learned and grown enough spiritually then we can go and serve. The thing is, we have already been given the responsibility and ultimately the privilege to be the hands and feet of Christ the moment we believed. The love we have to share, show, and give is endless. Love transforms not only us, but those around us.

I love when God begins stirring something up inside of me and then in His own perfect and timely way, begins to orchestrate every single aspect of that. Pieces start to come together. Things start to make a little more sense. Truth and answers are revealed.

There is a paragraph stuck right in the middle of the book that I can't seem to get out of mind.

"Instead of being identified as a community that memorizes Scripture, why not be identified as a community of professional lovers that causes people to say, "How they love one another!" Why do we judge Jesus' criterion for authentic discipleship irrelevant? Jesus said the world is going to recognize you as His by only one sign: the way you are with one another on the street every day. You are going to leave people feeling a little better or a little worse. You're going to affirm them or deprive them, but there'll be no neutral exchange. If we as a Christian community took seriously that the sign of our love for Jesus is our love for one another, I am convinced it would change the world. "~ Brennan Manning

I'm restless yet at peace. I'm tired spiritually in some ways yet I am being refreshed and renewed moment by moment by the Holy Spirit. I am apprehensive but excited to get on with this "thing" knowing that I am going to a new and deeper level with Jesus. I am feeling unsure and inadequate but know that He finds me usable and He has a purpose for my life. The love He has lavished on me so freely and unconditionally is the same love that I can share with others. That is something I should not be quiet about. It can be demonstrated in my words, a gentle touch, or even a glance.

Being comfortable and status quo in my relationship with Jesus is not okay with me anymore. Within the past couple of years since my husband and I started serving full-time in ministry, there have been areas that God has pulled me from. I realize that sometimes, He needs to get you away from things to allow you to see things in a new and fresh way. In the times when I thought and believed He had left, He really was there calling me to come further and deeper. This journey is so much more than I ever imagined it to be. God has surprised me many times along the way and I know more than ever what it means to really cling to Him.

I am being challenged to get out of my comfort zone. To go beyond the pew and the four walls of a church building. I want to be identified as His disciple whether it is in the community in which I live, on the baseball field as I sit with other parents watching their boys play ball, in the grocery store, serving at the homeless shelter, or even in my own home. I want to extend grace, forgiveness, mercy, and a love that keeps no record of wrongs. A kind of love that sees and hopes for the best in people. I want to welcome the stranger, visit the prisoner, feed the hungry and care for the sick. My heart wants to love and serve. My relationship with Jesus is deep and real and there are not parts that I can pick and choose from. I need and desire it all. I need His love, the power of the Holy Spirit to move in and through me, His touch, guidance, and for Him to quicken my heart to those things of eternal importance.

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. ~ John 13:34-35

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
2 Corinthians 5:17

Monday, April 20, 2009

Good Morning...

My sister, Sarah from Nesting in Pleasant View had this on her blog this morning so I thought I would join in...

For Today...

Outside my window... What is the saying? April showers bring May flowers.... rain, rain, and more rain is in the forecast for the next two days. 

I am thankful for... My husband coming home after being on a hiking trip this past week. 

From the kitchen... I'm in the mood to do some baking today. I have pulled out a recipe for Banana Chocolate Chip cookies that I have wanted to try. For dinner, I am making a meatball and noodle dish that we recently had my sister's.

I am wearing... Still in my jammies. 

I am reading... It's time for me to start a new book and I don't know what one to choose. I have a new cookbook coming in the mail today so I know I will be making my way through that. 

I am hoping... for some sunshine! I am also looking forward to sitting at the feet of Jesus today. I have allowed myself to get too busy with little things and it has gotten in my way of spending time with the Lord. 

I am creating... I recently made a "Congratulations" banner for our daughter, Jessica's graduation party. It was a really fun project and know I am thinking of all the things I can make banners for! I will be showing pictures soon. Pretty much all I have had on my mind is the planning for this party. A decision has finally been made for centerpieces and other decorations, invitations will be designed this week, and the menu has been decided. I am gradually getting things marked off the "to do" list. I also want to get a can of chalkboard paint to use on an old mirror so that I can have a "Menu" board.

I am hearing... Canadian geese squawking, honking, or whatever they do. Every Spring we have a gaggle of them show up around our house. They walk up and down the driveway leaving plenty of droppings and hiss at us when we drive by. They are also showing the clip of Susan Boyle singing on Live with Regis and Kelly. If you haven't heard this woman sing yet, go to YouTube and check her out... beautiful and so inspiring!

Around the house... All is quiet here. The kids are at school and I am getting ready to get on with the day. The beds are made, laundry is folded and the dishwasher has been unloaded. Boy, do I ever despise that job by the way! I'm going to finish up this post and run on the treadmill since it is raining. 

One of my favorite things... journals. I just bought a new one last week that I am using for lists and reminders. 

A few plans for the rest of the week... Baseball games and practices, running a couple errands, dentist appointment, lunch with a friend who is also going to show me how to use Photoshop, perhaps going on a picnic with my husband on his day off, dinner with some of my best girlfriends, and a 3rd birthday party for a special little friend. 

Happy Monday to all of you!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Isaiah 33:6

He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure.
Isaiah 33:6

Sunday, April 05, 2009

For I am the LORD your God, who churns up the sea so that it's waves roar-
the LORD Almighty is his name.
Isaiah 51:15

Friday, April 03, 2009

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Everybody Has A Job...

A very wise man that I know (my brother-in-law, Mike) lives by the belief that everybody has a job to do. I agree with him because I think it's an important lesson for my children even at this age to take ownership, accept responsibility, and have the feeling of accomplishing something no matter how big or small the job may be.

My children are on Spring Break this week and up until yesterday, the weather has been anything but Spring-like. When I saw the forecast the night before telling us that the temperature was finally going to be in the upper 50's and sunny, I was one happy Mama. Between having my two boys chasing each other through the house and wrestling on the floor for way too long, I knew it was time to give them a job. I knew just the perfect one that would keep them busy and doing something a little more productive for awhile. Not that I don't love to watch my boys play, I do because everything about their play is reality to them. On any given day, I will have an FBI agent, Navy Seal, Civil War soldier, Indiana Jones or Macgyver residing in our home. After awhile it got pretty loud and I found myself repeating an all too favorite quote of all mothers, "Stop before someone gets hurt!" more than once. I think boredom was starting to kick in because when boys get bored, they stop thinking. When Sam came to me with his hands tied (way too tightly) up with a belt, it was time for this Mom to take some action. I have learned with having boys to 1) Always keep them busy and 2) They will rise to the occasion when there is a job to be done. Especially when it is outside.

Our backyard has been almost completely covered in sweet gum balls. I don't know when they got there. I suppose last Fall and then with the snow covering the ground, I just didn't pay much attention. Well, these little prickly suckers are on our last nerve. Our little dogs go out and have to tiptoe their way through like it's a land mine.

So, the boys were assigned the task of picking up and raking up the sweet gum balls because as Uncle Mike says, "Everybody has a job to do."

This is only one pile of many and just look how happy and proud they were at themselves. Okay, not really. At this point they were so done with this job and the fact that Mom was taking a picture to put it on her blog made it even worse.

So, while the boys were outside with their job, I had a job as well... making this Lemon Yogurt Cake. (Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa At Home cookbook) It is SO good! Yes, I cheated on my diet to have a little bite but I needed to be able to tell you all how good it is. Perfect little treat to go with a glass of iced tea. Incredibly moist and oh so lemony...

The weather is supposed to be warm again today so we are headed off to have a picnic and go for a hike at a State Park nearby. I suppose our job for today is to have FUN!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Psalm 119:9-11

How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all of my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. 
Psalm 119:9-11