Saturday, December 24, 2011

Going Home and Living

"This world is not my home. I'm just passing through." - Larry Norman.

Our friend died on Wednesday night. His family told us that the time of Christmas singing and communion that we and some other friends had at his house last Sunday after church was a blessing for him and them, too. Now, he's receiving a lot more of that. And on the eve before Christmas, I can't think of a better Christmas gift than to see the Gift we all have been waiting to open.

Our family is spending Christmas with friends in California. It took a full day to get here, over 1,000 miles, in the fog, in the dark, bypassing accidents and animal carcasses, catching a few winks at a rest area, eating bad road food, multiple bathroom breaks and finally contending with bumper-to-bumper California traffic. All that to spend a few happy days with friends over the holidays.

And it's all worth it for a Merry Christmas with loved ones.

At this point, we are quite sure that our friend, just shy of his 70th birthday, would say the pain and discomfort over the past weeks was worth it to spend Christmas with his Savior.

Merry Christmas, Sonny.

Merry Christmas everyone.


Monday, December 19, 2011

More from the precipice

"Jesus wept." - John 11:35

Everyone knows or knows of the shortest verse in the Bible. Jesus displays His humanity after seeing the grief people feel over the fear and loss of a loved one. Jesus also was moved by the fact that Lazarus was dead.

There's nothing wrong with expressing sadness over things that are beyond our control. Currently, I am wrestling with my emotions and thoughts over watching a friend embracing his last days. And that causes me to ever ponder my end. I don't believe that it shows a lack of faith or belief that God is capable of doing whatever He wants, unless, of course, we are like those in verse 37 of this chapter: “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?” That's akin to saying, "I know you're capable of doing anything, God, but you must have been lying down on the job for this one." Let's understand, we can't pick and choose what we think God sees and doesn't see. He does see us and knows what goes on. Everyone knows the 23rd Psalm. They not just pithy words that are written: "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear for you are with me."

Jesus understood our greatest fear. He showed His compassion throughout the Gospels through this subject. He wanted to know us and to die for us. He is not cold, calculated and mean. In Luke chapter seven, Jesus was moved with compassion over another scene where a woman was having her dead son being taken out of the house. But He proved his power by raising the son from the dead.

Those two passages of Jesus' interactions with people at the moment of their greatest fears fill me with hope. God can do whatever He wishes. If He wants to heal someone, He can. If He wants to raise someone from the dead, He can. But I also understand that there will come a time when healings don't happen, when temporary relief can no longer delay the inevitable. For that, I have to hope in this: God sees death for what it is: It is a separation of the spirit from its earthly house. In short, at the time of death, our spirit is released to where it will permanently reside. If I really think about it, especially in light of scripture, my soul knows this to be true. I am just renting this body. The best is yet to come.

"For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands." I Cor. 5:1.

I want to see this place and find out what God has for me. What a step that will be when I finally am given that permission.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Stepping into the Great Unknown

"There’s a step that we all face alone, an appointment we have with the Great Unknown." – Bob Hartman.

Much has been said and written about dying. What I have to write about it is nothing new and I am quite sure that there are many people out there who can pontificate about the subject with far more eloquence than me.

But death is a raw subject that is meant to be discussed in a raw way. There’s no other way to discuss it than in matter-of-fact openness. It happens to every one of us and there is no escape from it.

My friend Sonny is going home today to die. He has end-stage cancer and it’s inoperable. Yesterday while in his hospital room, I asked him what the doctors are saying, meaning how much time does he have left, etc. I was hesitant from being blunt as I normally am around Sonny for the sake of those in the room who many not share such openness about the subject. He said to me and his relatives in the room that everyone wants to tiptoe around the subject, but stated that the truth of the matter is that he’s dying and he’s OK with that. Over the past year as he has dealt with his cancer, he said that dying isn’t the problem but has been more contemplative over God using him in the lives of others. I will say with a certainty that Sonny’s humility and courage has made a permanent mark in my life.

No, death is not the problem. It’s an open door to eternity. For those who will get upset reading this to argue with me about proof of an afterlife, I will say believe what you want. But whatever you do believe about death still requires faith. My faith is in Jesus who died and rose again, so what is there to worry about? But I still need to have faith and believe that when I breathe my last and the lights go out, that my existence will go on. “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord,” Paul wrote in II Corinthians 5:8. If there is a God then I have to believe that He has all aspects of life covered from birth to death. And I would rather cling to a hope that God will hold my hand during that time than to just be afraid not knowing what to expect, or that life is going to go on without me. If God has been with me through other times in my life, why would the end of my final chapter be any different?

Honestly, I still can’t wrap my head around it all right now. But I don’t need to be concerned with that right now. For Sonny, God is revealing Himself to him and granting him that special measure of grace to get him through the most difficult thing in life. That’s why he can say with confidence and a smile that he’s dying, and he’s accepted that because Jesus is waiting for him. And for that I am encouraged. With Him waiting, what is there to fear?

Monday, June 20, 2011

The finisher's medal

"Are you going to win, Dad?" my five-year-old son asked me as I got my running gear prepared the night before I ran a half-marathon a couple of days ago. I told him I would do my best. "I hope you win," he said over and over.

I ran the half marathon in 1:52:53, my fastest time yet among the three I've done over the past year.

I like running. I missed it so much when I didn't run for 15 years, until September 2009. Now I am the older runner. I've never fit the bill of a star runner. I know my limitations. For me it's not about getting to the finish line first, but getting there having done my best, using all my strength and endurance and hopefully learning from mistakes in training and performance and getting better and reaching, not just making, difficult but worthy goals.

Running is such a great analogy for the Christian life. Paul used it in his letters. When that day comes when I have breathed my last, I just want to hear Jesus say "Well done." At that point, to even have made it to His presence would be joyous. I am running to win the ultimate prize.

I noticed when I was heading into the finish line (with my legs feeling increasingly like lead weights) I had salt foam bubbling out of the bottom of my shorts by my left thigh. That was weird. I was sweating like a racehorse! Now, it's kind of icky, but it also was really kind of cool. Can I really push my body to its limits? What does that look like? What will happen when I run a marathon in 14 weeks? I'd better not see that salt foam for that could spell disaster and could find myself being too dehydrated. Nevertheless, it's strangely fun to experiment, make some corrections to hydration and training and see where that takes me.

When my family saw me come in 27th out of 78 runners, I told my son I beat a lot of people but again stressed that I just wanted to do my best -- and I did. He saw my finisher's medal and I put it on his neck. In fact, each of my kids took turns wearing the medal, sharing in their dad's success. I ran well, and that was the important thing.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Eating Your Spinach

Spinach just happens to be one of those amazing power foods that packs a lot of nutrients into one serving. Spinach is low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Niacin and Zinc, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Manganese. In other words, it's just that healthy!

The downside of spinach is the taste. It has a deep earthy flavor that some adults and kids alike find off-putting. But if we are to be good stewards of our bodies then finding ways of incorporating good nutritious food like spinach into our diet is essential.

Enter the smoothie! Smoothies are a fun easy way to get lots of good stuff into our diets without sacrificing flavor and enjoyment. Just take this recipe, for example. The spinach gets blended with a banana and wheat germ or flax seed for an added boost of fiber. When it's all ready to pour into a glass the spinach is still there but the banana is the only thing you can really taste. And I did let my kids try this and they loved it.

Banana Spinach Smoothie


•1 whole Banana, Sliced
•1 cup Packed Fresh Baby Spinach Leaves
•1 cup Soy Milk Or Skim
•1 teaspoon Ground Flax Seed Or Wheat Germ
•½ cups Crushed Ice


Combine ingredients into a Magic Bullet or blender. Blend for about 30 seconds or until smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy.

Serves one.


Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Pineapple Avocado Gazpacho

I LOVE everything pineapple. Pineapple juice, fresh pineapple, pineapple upside-down cake, pineapple salad, pineapple Hawaiian shirts! And I LOVE almost everything avocado. Avocado guacamole, avocado salsa, avocado smoothies, avocado bread (but NOT avocado green refrigerators - I did say almost).

But putting pineapple and avocado together in a chilled soup was a little daring, for me, but I am more willing to take the leap when I think about all the health benefits of pineapples and avocados. For instance, pineapple is a great low-calorie food at just 50 calories per 100 grams, or about 1/2 cup. It is high in Vitamin C and is a great digestive aid, especially if eaten between meals as a snack. Avocado is also a wonderful health food, as avocados provide nearly 20 essential nutrients, including fiber, potassium, Vitamin E, B-vitamins and folic acid.

So I dare you to try this recipe and tell me if you're as surprised at how tasty it is as I am!

Pineapple & Avocado Gazpacho Soup


- 2 cups fresh pineapple
- 1 avocado
- 1/2 to 1 jalapeno pepper
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 lime
- sprouts (sunflower sprouts are the best) or cilantro for a garnish

1. Remove the seeds and chop the jalapeno pepper. Wearing gloves is a great idea when you do this so that you don’t risk your fingers burning, and be careful not to touch your face or eyes until you remove the gloves and wash your hands!
2. Squeeze the juice of one lime into a blender and add 1 cup of pineapple, half an avocado, half the jalapeno pepper and the sea salt.
3. Blend the mixture well.
4. Pour the mixture into a large bowl and mix in the remaining finely chopped 1 cup of pineapple, half an avocado and half the jalapeno pepper.
5. Add a little water if you prefer a thinner soup, but I like my gazpacho thick.
6. Garnish with the cilantro or sprouts and make sure the soup is chilled!


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Yumminess of God

When describing my personal study to our oldest I referred to the "yumminess of God." She laughed with me as I continued to talk about how many times God's goodness and provisions are expressed with terms like taste, sweet, hunger, satisfy. It's pretty telling, especially when words like fruit and harvest are used, that God fully intends to meet, not only our need of him, but also our desires.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, as there are certainly more references than this in all of scripture. But feast on these verses and see how God is truly good and can satisfy all our needs and desires.
Psalm 34:8
Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!

Psalm 119:103
How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey.

Proverbs 16:24
Kind words are like honey--sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.

Proverbs 24:14
In the same way, wisdom is sweet to your soul. If you find it, you will have a bright future, and your hopes will not be cut short.

Proverbs 27:7
A person who is full refuses honey, but even bitter food tastes sweet to the hungry.

Psalm 107:9
For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

Psalm 107:36
He brings the hungry to settle there and to build their cities.

Psalm 146:7
He gives justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry. The LORD frees the prisoners.

Proverbs 10:3
The LORD will not let the godly go hungry, but he refuses to satisfy the craving of the wicked.

John 6:35
Jesus replied, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

God, You are good and You give us good things, not only for our health and wholeness but also for our enjoyment and pleasure. Open my eyes to Your Word every day so that I can see that You alone can satisfy my deepest longings and desires, that my greatest need for comfort is found in You. Help me to be faithful in seeking You first to satisfy me and fill me. Forgive me of my sinful craving for things that are temporary and will not last. Even my desire to be physically fit is fleeting and not of eternal value. But desiring Your presence and spending time in deep heartfelt worhip of You, Lord, is forever! Thank You for this revelation!


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dishwashing Dates and Rocking the Chore Charts

After several frustrating weeks of dishes piled in the sink, laundry piled on chairs, and shoes, books, and toys piled in the corners of various rooms I decided that our system of designating chores was just not working. Everything was on one page and, while it might have worked if everyone was over the age of 30 and understood how to read it, it just looked like no one was working together. Shared activity is very important to our family, be it special outings or simply hanging out at the fire pit. So I decided that that needed to be incorporated into our chore schedules.

So I sat down at the laptop and came up with three distinct areas of housekeeping that could be accomplished within the day, even around school and other responsibilities. The pages are "laminated" (with packing tape) so names can be circled off with a dry erase marker for the current day's jobs. The main key is shared jobs and working together. Many hands make light work, right? I believe this nurtures relationships and fosters a sense of teamwork. Cooperative attitudes are encouraged and built up and not one person is left to feel like they're doing everything all the time.

And those "Dishwashing Dates"? Well, for me, washing dishes has never been especially pleasurable but knowing that two days out of the week I wash dishes with Bill makes it something to actually look forward to, like a special date at the kitchen sink! This is also shared, now, and the girls will end up washing dishes with each other or with either Bill or me. It gives us a chance to catch up on their lives and address any problems in a calmer manner.

So far this has been working well and will need revision as our children get older. But, for now, we are enjoying the closeness that this brings to our family.


Monday, April 04, 2011

Spring Break Activities for a Rainy Day

Spring Break, here at the haven, is getting off to a soggy start. That's what we get for living in NorthWest Washington! So, with this in mind my search for Spring Break ideas resulted in these ten great activities that will keep our kids busy having fun.

Creative Party Buzz has these top 10 suggestions for Spring Break boredom busters!

1. Put on a Show — Gather the gang and challenge them to stage a play or show off in a talent contest. If they are stuck for ideas, have everyone put their best suggestion in a hat (including you) and draw an idea at random.

2. Get Busy with a Mini-Field Trip — Visit one of your local indoor attractions, such as the bowling alley, skating rink, Laser Tag, indoor pool, climbing wall or even the library. Lots of places offer special events and rates during Spring Break.

3. Get Your Game on! — Raid the game cabinet and find a family favorite to play. Start a puzzle or get active with a game of Twister or Wii.

4. Bring Your Favorite Outdoor Activity Inside — Keep everybody moving by playing a game of Nerf basketball, indoor bowling (roll a rubber ball down the hall to knock over some empty bottles), or beach ball volleyball. You can also come up with lots of fun games using balloons, such as seeing how long you can keep it in the air, or playing monkey in the middle.

5. Have a Treasure Hunt — Make up some clues for your kids to follow to hunt around the house for a hidden treat.

6. Do a craft — Paint, color, make play clay, blow bubbles, or gather up some random bits and pieces and see what your kids’ imaginations can come up with!

7. Exercise — Sometimes a rainy day calls for burning off some extra energy. Break out your exercise videos and get moving. Many cable networks offer lots of exercise shows on demand, or you can usually check out an exercise DVD at your local video store or library.

8. Get Cooking! — Plan a meal or special recipe as a family. Take a trip to the grocery and buy what you’ll need, then come home and work together to prepare your menu. When it’s time to eat, put out your best tablecloth, good china, and some candlelight and enjoy your kitchen creation!

9. Build a Fort — Break out all the cushions, pillows and blankets and build a giant indoor fort. When it is made, pull in your sleeping bags, a special snack, and some flashlights, and cuddle up with a great book.

10. Let it Rain! — Who cares if it’s raining…button up your overcoats, pull on your galoshes, and go play oustide! Run, splash and fool around. Then when everybody is done, gather for a wam bath or some hot chocolate and cookies.

Have a Wonderful Spring Break!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fruit Dip Gone Healthy

"Can we have dessert?"

I hear that every day, sometimes a dozen times a day. I'm not joking. Our kids love dessert.

And who doesn't? Are any of us really so mature that we don't eyeball the candy racks, bakery shelves, and cookie aisles once in awhile?

Curbing the sugar craving, however, is a skill that is already difficult for grown ups, let alone a hopping toddler or preschooler whose tastebuds are hardwired for sweet. And the seasons don't help matters one bit, either. Shortly after the Christmas sugar rush is the allure of Valentine's chocolates, then minty St. patties, then Easter egg-shaped sugar-bombs, then a full Summer of any sweetened milk, yogurt, juice, fudge that can be frozen. Tummy ache, yet? And I haven't even started in on Halloween candy and bountiful Thanksgiving baking.

So, knowing what I know about my children, they like fruit enough to eat it as a snack or as part of their lunch but for dessert? That's a little trickier so I have to either cut it all up into a fruit salad or bake it into something that can be topped off with ice cream. That kind of defeats the purpose of sugar reduction, though. So what solution did I come up with?

Enter Agave. "Agave nectar or syrup is the juice of the agave plant, which is filtered and heated (raw agave syrup is heated only to 118 degrees F) to create a syrup of a consistency slightly thinner than honey. Agave syrup contains some nutrients including iron and calcium. Unlike white sugar, no animal products are used in filtering. Agave syrup is mainly fructose and glucose though ratios vary from 56% to 92% fructose depending on the agave variety. Because of the high fructose content, agave nectar doesn't raise your blood sugar as much as most other sweeteners."

So, turning fruit into a presentable dessert is actually very easy:

Agave Fruit Dip

1 8 oz pkg low fat cream cheese, or neufchatel cheese, softened
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place all ingredients in a deep bowl and blend with handmixer until smooth. Chill until ready to serve with apple wedges, banana slices, whole strawberries, or other crunchy fruit.

"Yes, we can have dessert!"



Monday, March 28, 2011

My Old Cookbook: Old Fashioned Baked Beans

My mother has two copies of this cookbook by Meta Given, one well-kept edition which was discovered in a used bookstore and another well-used copy which has been in her kitchen for decades. The pages are stained with the ingredients that have been a part of our mealtimes since I can remember. It may not be the only cookbook she owns but there is something so comforting to any domestic chef to have a dog eared and tattered friend who's seen a thing or two sitting in the kitchen offering advice and instruction on feeding bodies and souls. I have a copy of that same book so for me it's also like having my mother working alongside me. I like that feeling.

So, today, there is Meta Given's Old Fashioned Baked Beans on the menu, with a few personal tweaks.

2 lbs. dried navy beans (I use pinto with satisfactory results)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon salt
4 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup ketchup
pinch black pepper
*I left out the salt pork from this recipe simply because I didn't have it

My method: Sort beans and place in large pot. Cover with 2 inches water. Bring to a boil on stove. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 1 hour. Drain and rinse beans, discarding liquid. Return to Dutch oven; add 4 qts. water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 hour or until the beans are almost tender. Drain and reserve liquid. Combine beans with the remaining ingredients. Transfer to two ungreased 2-1/2-qt. baking dishes or bean pots. Add 1-1/2 cups reserved cooking liquid to each casserole; stir to combine. Cover and bake at 325° for 3 to 3-1/2 hours or until beans are as thick as desired, stirring occasionally. Add more of the reserved cooking liquid if needed. Yield: 16-18 servings.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Don't Be Afraid {repost}

{February 22, 2010}

The family and I were at the beach at Waldport, Oregon, this weekend. With the blue sky, relatively calm ocean waves and very little wind, we wondered if this really was the latter part of February or May. This is not winter in the Northwest to be sure.

Before we left for home on Sunday, we walked on the beach one last time. The kids ran and played and we drank in the sounds and smells of the beach before we had to head home. I had the kids close their eyes to listen to the waves. I told them to take a deep breath and smell the saltiness of the air. I asked them to remember these moments. When they are in their beds at night waiting for sleep to come, they could remember these times on the beach and retreat back to them.

The Oregon coast is one of our favorite places. We get the spectrum of emotion when visiting. We see the ocean at its angriest in early winter. In the summer, the ocean sometimes pitches a fit but it mostly behaves like a toddler frolicking, kicking around and having a good time. The ocean this weekend was a little flirtacious, teasing us but really meaning no harm.

But in a brief display of might, the teasing ocean yesterday wasn't anything one would want to mess with. It was with that background that I read a little from Mark 6: 48-51:

48He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, 49but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, 50because they all saw him and were terrified. "Immediately he spoke to them and said, 'Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid.' 51Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down."

While reading, I asked Murron, our seven-year-old to imagine being on a boat in the waves, being afraid, and then seeing a ghost, and being more afraid, but then realizing it was Jesus, who said to not be afraid. Watching the waves, it wasn't hard imagining what I would do in that situation.

But when God says not to be afraid, He means it. If He made the winds and the seas, then there really shouldn't be anything to fear. It's a constant lesson. But to actually obey the Lord and not fear when things appear to be out of control would be a great thing. Until then, or at least while trying, I'm still begging the Lord to get in the boat with me. I don't want to be out in the storm alone.


Friday, March 04, 2011


"But a woman dishonors her head if she prays or prophesies without a covering on her head, for this is the same as shaving her head. Yes, if she refuses to wear a head covering, she should cut off all her hair! But since it is shameful for a woman to have her hair cut or her head shaved, she should wear a covering."
1 Corinthians 11:5, 6

You know, I don't actually have a problem with these verses!

Call me old fashioned or stereotyped but shaved hair on a woman does not look feminine. I understand that there are women who do so because of health reasons or to promote awareness of health issues. As a matter of choice, however, I will grow my hair to whatever length I am able. Maybe I feel this way because my hair has always been thin and fine like baby's hair. Nonetheless, I have gained quite an appreciation for attractive and stylish headwear ever since hats reemerged as the fashion must-haves they, in my candid opinion, have always been.

So, here's a few of the possibilities I have enjoyed discovering and will keep my eyes and available cash ready for:

Super fun and fabulous!

Elizabeth totally rocks the beret look. So not fair!

Classy yet can work with a pair of good jeans or long black skirt.

My favorite! Outrageous, bold, and still sophisticated. I LOVE the French!!!


Wednesday, March 02, 2011

lovely tangle

Recently I have read several blogs that have been refreshing and comforting to me as I struggle to make sense of how I am to spend my days and hours and minutes. What has really inspired me the most is how real and open these writers are in sharing their lessons learned, their wisdom gained, and their sins forgiven. I have felt necessarily uncomfortable as their stories have shed a gentle light into the hiding places of my heart and mind. It has confirmed how much farther I have to go in appropriating God's mercy and grace toward me and sharing those holy virtues with others.

lovely tangle is my open journal and outpouring of prayer and praise to the One who gives me courage and strength to be who He has called me to be. I want to invite you, readers and friends, to walk with me and offer your insights into this mysterious world of God's unending love and grace. I hope you visit whenever you can!


Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Dinner on a Dime

Our family is usually very discriminating in food tastes. We never eat white bread, we mostly bake from scratch, and even pancakes and waffles don't come from a mix. It has even become a bit of a joke around our friends, as our oldest declared one July 4th potluck gathering, "I don't eat processed potato salad." Indeed that basic Summer staple is made entirely by hand at the haven.

So it was a drastic departure from the norm, on Sunday evening, when I tossed a few boxes of mac n cheese into the grocery cart. Bill nearly went tachycardia on me until I explained as only a desperate housewife can, "I REALLY NEED something fast and easy to fix for lunches..." Being a little breathless from the snow-chilled air may have helped appeal to him, too.

I set to work boiling the water, checking the pasta to make sure it wasn't getting too soft (I really prefer my noodles firm to the bite). Then, once drained, I was about to add the remaining ingredients when a bold flash of inspired creativity struck me. I just can't leave a decent recipe well enough alone! The resulting dish was quite nearly elevated to fine cuisine status. My secret? Sour cream. No butter or milk. Just about 4 - 6 tablespoons sour cream blended in with the "cheese product" packet and the flavor is fabulous. Add a few dashes of fresh ground pepper, garlic powder, dry mustard, or other savory herbs and it becomes a dish you could even proudly bring to a social gathering.

The real trick to preparing good meals out of a box or can is imagination, friends. Just because it comes with instructions printed on the side does not mean you have to follow them exactly and to the letter. Cooking is fun, for crying out loud, so it's okay to play with ingredients. Got a can of chili and a package of hot dogs? Chop those puppies into the chili and add some brown sugar and barbecue sauce. Cream of mushroom soup and cooked rice? Mix them up, shape into balls, drizzle with a bit of melted butter and bake until golden brown. A family size can of potato soup, 1/2 lb of browned and drained bulk Italian sausage and some extra minced onion gets you something pretty darn close to Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana!

So shed those it-has-to-be-scratch inhibitions, grab a few of those convenience grocery items, and have fun creating!


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Murron-Bones' Birthday

You are eight years old today.

That is so hard to believe! You are still as sweet, as adorable, and as innocent as the day you were born but your sass and smarts give it away that you're well beyond babyhood. You're not even a toddler or preschooler. You know too much and you've grown too big. Just not so big that you don't tearfully explain with quivering chin that someone hurt your feelings. Not so old that you don't kiss our lips when we say goodnight. And not quite grown up enough to not need our loving reminders or discipline. But big enough to ask if you can walk yourself a quarter of a mile to school (NO). Old enough to tell the orthodonstist the complicated tongue-tying four-syllable last name of your reading teacher. And grown up enough to listen to our instruction and wisdom and obey even when you don't understand.

You love to have fun, have a gorgeous smile, and possess a fabulous sense of humor. You are an artist, organizer, big sister, little mommy, faithful friend, and beloved daughter. We love you, our Murron-Bones!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Every Thought Captive: Battling the Toxic Beliefs that Separate Us from the Life We Crave (NavPress)

There's havoc at the Haven! February is by far one of the busiest months so blogging inevitably falls off the priority list followed by dusting and washing windows...

So, I am offering my first attempt at a book review (yes, I try to read books, when I find something that grips my attention and between status updates on facebook). A clumsy effort which should be expected from an awkward girl like me.

Before perusing the library shelf in my search for something I could read at will, I'd never heard of author Jerusha Clark. To be honest her first name, which means "married, a possession" intrigues me. I love unusual names but hers has an almost ancient mystical sound to it.

What makes her book "Every Thought Captive" such an easy one to pick up and read whenever I find a few moments is how conversational Jerusha is in her writing. As women we carry on dialogue all day long, sometimes pausing or coming back to topics later on. It isn't so much about what she's actually saying on paper but how she says it. Friendly, warm, and reassuring that she knows what I struggle with and I believe her.

"Every Thought Captive" deals with the thoughts that plague us and prevent us from living joyful and free lives. Relying mostly on personal stories, hers and others, Jerusha applies scripture to affix truths that she has learned. As a whole the chapter format is organized and flows well. This is very important for me as I'm frequently interrupted and need to be able to pick up where I've left off.

Which, right now, is the middle of Chapter 5.


Wednesday, February 02, 2011


For the past couple of weeks I've found myself flipping my Bible pages to Isaiah. There is so much that this evangelical prophet has to say about the coming Messiah that it's like reading the Gospel in the Old Testament.

There is a certain effect that the words of this man of God has on the reader. Emotions can range from despair to delight, stubbornness to surrender, remorse to rejoicing.

Chapter 12 reads like a beautiful Psalm of praise or hymn to God. Let these words fill your heart with joy.

Isaiah 12 ~ Songs of Praise for Salvation

1 - In that day you will sing:
“I will praise you, O Lord!
You were angry with me, but not any more.
Now you comfort me.
2 - See, God has come to save me.
I will trust in him and not be afraid.
The Lord God is my strength and my song;
he has given me victory.”
3 - With joy you will drink deeply
from the fountain of salvation!
4 - In that wonderful day you will sing:
“Thank the Lord! Praise his name!
Tell the nations what he has done.
Let them know how mighty he is!
5 - Sing to the Lord, for he has done wonderful things.
Make known his praise around the world.
6 - Let all the people of Jerusalem[a] shout his praise with joy!
For great is the Holy One of Israel who lives among you.”


In Participation With:

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Family First

Bill and I have four kids. Elizabeth is 17, Murron is 7, Uilleam is 5, and MacAulay is 3. A nice size to some and a big family to others. Having grown up as the 13th child in a family of 15 kids I have to laugh in protest. But we certainly are busy and anticipate even fuller schedules as the kids get older. Elizabeth, for example, is involved on our church's youth group so she is committed every Friday night.

Church, for that matter, is a big part of our family's activities throughout the week. Whether Bill is taking part in cleaning the church or other work, or I am leading the worship ministry or joining the ladies for fellowship, we could easily have something to do every day of the week. That sometimes puts a strain on the family unit, though, especially if we haven't connected as much. We have heard similar stories from others in our church and that's how Family First Fridays came about. Bill and I launched this monthly event in September where we show a family friendly movie and it has become very popular in our church. Our family has enjoyed it greatly.

More recently we have come to realize that our family needs a family night of our own, each week. We looked at our weekly schedules and concluded that, for the time being, Thursday nights are it. It's something so important to me that, a few weeks ago, I had to fight for it as time was getting away and bad attitudes were threatening to mess it up. I went mother bear! So, within moments we were all settled around the table playing Chutes and Ladders, and teaching lessons on winning and losing. We have watched a movie together, had dinner out, and played games. The kids enjoy it and we all have fun and laugh a lot. And, not surprisingly, we've grabbed opportunities to spend family time other days of the week. It is our hope and prayer that, along with chores and devotions, our kids leave home with a storehouse of memories of these special moments at home.


Monday, January 31, 2011

Farmers just wanna have fun. {repost}

Image hosted by Photobucket.comLast Friday morning I was at Shari's restaurant writing a little bit and reading my Bible when I got distracted.

He was a 50-something farmer in coveralls who looked a little like Hoss and sounded like a tobacco farmer in eastern North Carolina I met once.

He struck up a conversation with the waitress.

"You remind me of someone," he told her in his transplanted Tarheel accent. "You look like a movie star."

The waitress, though she was a pleasant looking middle-aged blonde, didn't look like any movie star I've seen. She smiled, told the man that if she were a movie star she wouldn't be working the morning shift at Shari's. She poured the man his coffee.

A few minutes later while making her rounds, the man again remarked on the waitress' celebrity appearance. This time she just muttered politely and went about her business.

Another few minutes later while she was approaching his table, the man exclaimed, "Cyndi Lauper!" He then went into a long story about seeing Cyndi Lauper opening for Cher several years ago. Actually, it must have been more than 20 years ago. The waitress' reply was non nonplus, acknowledging the man with a few forced interjections of "oh really," and "wow."

Through the surprising turn in this exchange I started thinking: What was a tranplanted North Carolinean farmer from the hills of Washington doing going to a Cyndi Lauper concert? Surely the singer of the '80s with colorful hair must have made quite the impression on this man of the soil for it to have been burned in his memory all these years. I wondered what works of other singers make up his music collection. Naturally, I had pegged his musical tastes to be that of Clint Black, Trisha Yearwood, Tanya Tucker or a plethora of other country stars who twang out tales of momma, trucks, patriotism and honky tonks. But no. Here's a man who swooned to hearing about girls wanting to have fun and true colors shining through. Perhaps he understood the deeper meaning to Cyndi's tune about the Goonies.

If I were that waitress, I would have parked myself beside this complex man and picked his brain awhile. Inside that man wearing coveralls and a ballcap was a man who was more than tractors, hay and cows.

Perhaps he even went to a Culture Club concert once.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

It Is Well - Part 3: Fit or Flight?

In the spirit of honesty there are certain facts that truly must be shared. According to the BMI chart for women I should weigh 50 pounds less than I do. Basically, after plugging in my height and weight, the darling little online calculator has this gem for me: A BMI of 30 or more is considered obese. Being obese increases your risk for serious conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. See your doctor to learn how to manage your weight.

Nice. Lovely. This news gets me so excited I feel like having hot cocoa and a cruller. Wanna come to my pity party? Actually, it's not news. It's old and repetitive like an 80's ballad that won't stop getting airplay. "Time after time..."

Since beating my personal dragon and getting my driver's license, I find myself tempted beyond sense and reason to pile the kids in the van to take Murron to school. Not a big deal, you might think, plenty of other moms drive their children around. Okay, then, do these "other" moms drive their kids a quarter mile to school? 440 yards. 1320 feet. 0.40233 kilometers. In my defense, this has only happened in the rain, so far, but the lure to take the easy way is hard to resist, some days. I suppose that's why it's a good thing that we only have one multi-passenger vehicle. It forces me to pop the kids in the jogging stroller, instead, and walk half a mile. It's not very impressive, I know. I should be continuing my walk around an extra half mile, or whole mile, or even five miles. I don't but I should.

I don't because it's not attractive or interesting. The entertainment value of a brisk walk for exercise is, in my opinion, like polishing silver or raising chickens. We don't own silver and chickens definitely don't want me in charge of their upkeep. Ever. Bill, on the other hand, not only enjoys a brisk walk but he runs to work, runs home from work, runs around the city, runs on the treadmill, and runs half marathons. It's kind of like he's running from something, and I suppose he is. He's running from the weight he used to be because he knows it could catch up to him if he doesn't. He's running from the health issues that have caused him to take prescribed medicines. He's running from depression, negative emotions, and real or imagined demons. He's become very good at it, too.

So, I ask myself often why I run to confort, pleasure, food, or ease. What do I really fear about exercise that I am so easily drawn to what's most convenient, at the time? Why do I avoid healthy changes to my physical activity level and instead maintain my lazy habits? When will I get tired of my tight waistbands and fatigue and fight back with running shoes and resolution?

My thinking is what needs to change the most before I see any physical changes in myself. I have to see exercise and activity as the committment to discipline it really is. And that, I know, is what I'm most afraid of and have run the farthest to escape. But, in so doing, I have run to things that have not been beneficial and have actually done me little good. Sure, food and comfort are important, and pleasure enriches our lives. But having neglected to balance these things with disciplined activities has resulted in a level of gluttony that goes beyond gorging. No, I am not consuming whole pies and pizzas but I will admit that I nibble on sentiment and nostalgia of my slender past. I stuff my mind with self-pity and regret over mistakes. And I overfeed on excuses and jusitfications. The results of this unhealthy mental and emotional binging is a wild and dangerous craving that cannot be satisfied.

The only certain effective weapon is committed daily active discipline, both in body and spirit. To successfully defeat this unruly appetite I must fight energetically, on my knees and on my feet. I need to oppose those things that would prevent my victory with every scripture I've learned and memorized and each aerobic set and rep. Avoiding the urge to flee I need to persevere in all my efforts to be fit in every way. I know that excess weight, health issues, and depressed thinking will always be on my heels, trying to catch up. But if I exercise my will and keep my thoughts set on my goal then I can stay ahead of my pursuers and be ready for the tasks that God has for me.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bittersweet Discipline {repost}

Since early in our marriage Bill and I have kept special chocolate treats in our bedroom. These decadent treasures have ranged from simple chocolate kisses to extra special dark chocolates. Bill and I like to give these to each other at random moments and often secretly. They're not so much a secret anymore, however.

The girls have known to keep out of this private collection for a long time, now, but the boys have stumbled upon their discovery and had been looting our trove like bandits. So today was no different as I was occupied in another room when I heard a terrible crash. Elizabeth was the first to investigate and let out a shriek. I came into our room and quickly sent both boys to their rooms and asked Elizabeth to make sure that was where they stayed until I was finished. Bill’s tall dresser, which held the chocolates was tipped completely onto its face assuring me what they’d been after. After cleaning up the mess it was remarkable that only one thing had broken, a perfume bottle. Even more surprising was the fact that neither of the boys were hurt in any way.

As I walked to our oldest boy’s room I could hear him sniffling then, as I entered, he wailed, “I’m so sorry, Mommy.” I hugged him close and told him I knew that but what he did was so dangerous that he can’t do it ever again. I told him I had to discipline him and he took it like the little man he is. Afterward he said, “Let’s pray, Mommy.” I held him as he told God he was sorry, that what he did was dangerous, thanking God that no one got hurt, and thankful that I’d disciplined him. He was thankful for the consequence! He is only four years old but in his little tender heart he understands the meaning of correction and that I love him enough to do it. I sat there and cried, at which he started laughing and said, “Don’t cry, Baby” I cried even more and he laughed again and said, “You’re not a baby!” I then went into our youngest son’s room and went through the same process, with slightly different results, but we prayed too. Still too young to appreciate his lesson, like his older brother, but accepting his discipline nonetheless.

I’m left to think about my own heart and how I accept correction. I’m not the most obedient child and I’m not always thankful for God’s discipline. But while the broken bottle of perfume sits on the dresser and fills this room with it’s aroma, I will remember the sweet repentant words of my son and try to follow his example as best I can.


Monday, January 24, 2011

It Is Well - Part 2: Water Pure and Simple

On December 27th of 2010 I turned 40. We were in Saskatchewan, Canada celebrating Christmas with family. There were thoughtful gifts, meaningful cards, and delicious cake. Surrounded by a loving family and a spirit of joy, I feel wonderfully blessed to have experienced such an event. I want to be able to celebrate many more birthdays, Christmases, and special occasions to come.

My health has never been in peril but I have endured problems and challenges that, by God’s grace and medical wisdom, have been managed and corrected. Being sick, recently, caused something to happen (I’ll spare you the details) that was annoying and frustrating. Maybe it’s the farm-girl in me that squats down with a wheat straw and sage advice on her lips that makes me self-diagnose so often. Revving up the search engines, I read about things like acidophilus, cranberry, saw palmetto, and herbs and homeopaths I’ve never heard of in my whole adult life. After a couple days trying to resolve things “the natural way” without much progress I cut out all other beverages and started to drink water. Lots of water. Nearly camel portions of water! And, not very surprisingly, it made a difference. While I did end up purchasing an OTC medicine, I have felt significantly better and may still avoid a doctor’s visit.

Water is the oldest and simplest of homeopaths. It cleanses, soothes, refreshes, replenishes, and even heals. Just do a simple online search for properties and benefits of water and you will be as surprised as I was! Water is also very easy to incorporate into our diet. Just drink it, regularly and often. Again the internet has some great ideas on how to develop the water habit. It can be as simple as drinking a glass of water for every cup of coffee, tea, milk, juice, or soda that you drink during the day.

Thank You, God for giving us water to drink for the health of our bodies!

Psalms 78:16 He brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers.

*disclaimer: this blog is not intended to replace a relationship with a health care provider and should be viewed from an entertainment perspective, thanks!*


Friday, January 21, 2011

It Is Well – Part 1: Gratitude Check

Last night could have been a disaster. I had plans for a family game night and, by 5:30 p.m., it looked like my agenda was being threatened. Did you catch that honest evaluation, right there? That alone is progress, folks, something I could celebrate like New Year’s Eve! So, after some firm words, dinner, more words, assembling the kids around the table, and still more (louder) words, it was 7 p.m. and Chutes and Ladders was finally underway! “Victory, O, Victory is mine…!” While we played one child (who will be unnamed) was getting upset because the spinner kept hitting low numbers. Advancing up the board was too slow and a few tears were shed (hence the reason for withholding the name). Eventually the spinner landed this certain player one space away from the coveted ladder: the one that would spell instant win. In a stroke of good luck the spinner landed on 1 and this player celebrated like a champion athlete! It was exciting to watch, of course, but I had to wonder what the reaction would have been if someone else had won. I know how I’ve reacted and pathetic doesn’t even describe it remotely well enough.

Lately, I have come to accept that there is much about my attitude that needs to change, namely my reaction to unexpected, unpleasant, or uncomfortable outcomes. Why is that, you may wonder. Well, silly reader, I am just as much a whiner baby, at times, as my kids can be, or anyone else for that matter. It bugs me when things don’t go my way and that’s the simple truth of it. The problem, however, is that once I start nitpicking things it’s hard to stop. Then it becomes a habit and the habit becomes a lifestyle until I become the mean old lady that no one wants to visit or have over for dinner. That's very sad but very true, friends. So, in a moment of revelation, I thought about gratitude, the best antidote to grumbling. Then I started to think about what I am thankful for. Simple things. Real things. Honest things. And this is what I came up with. Can you think of a similar list?

Thank You, God, for allowing and even inviting me to talk to You about everything that's on my mind and heart. Thank You for sending Your Son to save me from myself, because I know how easily I mess everything up. Thank You for all Your blessings that I could never deserve, despite my absurd attempts to earn them.

Thank you, Bill, for loving me in spite of everything you know about me. Thank you for being the husband and father I’ve only ever dreamed of partnering with. Thank you for being a man of godly character and conviction when it would be so easy to just give up trying.

Thank you, Elizabeth, Murron, Uilleam, and MacAulay for needing me when I so often doubt my abilities to offer anything to you. Thank you for trying so hard to meet my expectations when your blood runs crazy wild with childhood energy and unpredictability. Thank you for coming to me for hugs and kisses, and letting me hug and kiss you back.

Thank you, friends, for giving me an outlet for my outrageous comments and behavior. Thank you for helping me develop my social skills when, sometimes, I’d rather curl up under a blanket and hide. Thank you for accepting me into your own uniquely blessed lives.


Introducing Jen of Vivi Mae Creations!

I'm always excited about people I know starting blogs, and love to introduce them to anyone who stops by the Haven for a visit.

Vivi Mae Creations is a new blog from Jen, a sweet wife and mother of four kids. Vivi Mae Creations is her home based business and she offers unique and beautiful handmade crocheted hats, scarves and other creative and warm items.

Way to go, Jen!

~ Glory

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Get Well

Now that our family is FINALLY over the worst of the cold and flu season the time has come to restore healthy habits and better eating. This can be much easier said than done, though, since our family does not have the reputation of established routines, set bedtimes, and regular meals. We're not CPS targets, either, but honestly, daily schedules don't just bore me, I tend to run fast and far away from them. They feel restricting and uncomfortable, like a time-out chair. And we don't have a time-out chair.

Hearing a crude symphony of sneezing-coughing-sniffling-groaning-retching-*insert other unmentionable body functions* for nearly a month, however, did warrant some drastic measures such as bleach washes and menu changes. I feel this is where I must clarify some points. Firstly, while we are not continually washing our hands or cleaning something 50 times a day as some do, neither are we total slobs who don't care about the appearance of our home or ourselves, for that matter. Ketchup marks the corners of our kids' mouths, sometimes, but we try to remind them to wash their hands after eating, using the bathroom, or touching anything dirty or offensive *cough*slugs*cough* Secondly, gardening dreams are yet to become reality and our food budget is not substantial enough to include too many organic, raw, natural products. But fast food, pre-made meals, and convenience items rarely make it onto our grocery shopping list, if ever. Homemade meals and balanced menus are what we strive for and are usually able to accomplish regularly. Finally, being a household of six kind of implies a busy life. No, we are not members of any health club or fitness center. But parenting employs unique muscle groups that must be strong enough to handle anything a 17, 7, 5, and 3 year-old can dish out. Most of the time.

If there is any area of our lives that needs routine wellness intervention it's attitudes. Getting sick makes us grumpy, tired, and irritable. Noises and other discomforts are amplified and increased. Essentially, life feels bad and people aren't nice! Of course, that's exaggerated thinking but whining has no limits and self-pity violates the boundaries of common sense and reason. And having a sick mind isn't corrected with bed rest or medicines. We've tried! Unhealthy thoughts don't come from any kind of bacteria or virus so immunizations and antibiotics are ineffective in treating them. As believers we know the only therapy we can be sure of is time in God's Word, prayer, and worshipful service. It gets our focus back on Him and our purpose for living. Then, even when physical illness wreaks havoc on our bodies, a spirit that is right and healthy can help us get through it and we can still say with confident assurance "Whatever my lot Thou hast taught me to say 'It is well, it is well with my soul.'"


Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Interrupted Life

So much about today is hardly worth noting. Why I would even write about it is somewhat puzzling. There is nothing significant about the date nor the events which occurred. The only thing that prompts me to record anything at all is one similar theme: interruption.

Every member of our family has been sick to one degree or another for the past couple of weeks, now. I had my turn most recently but have since recovered to a functional level. It was the plan, however, that Bill would take Murron to school early on his way to work so she could have breakfast and, "make some friends," as she expressed it. As the alarm sounded this morning I knew that would simply not be the case. Sure enough Bill slowly shuffled his weakened body to the phone and left a message at the office that he was unable to go in. Murron was already dressed and getting ready to leave so I got prepared to walk her to school. When I opened the door, though, I quickly realized that the rain would soak us both through so I drove our 2nd grader to school.

When I arrived back home Bill quickly excused himself from watching the boys and tucked himself back into bed. I got busy planning a healthful dinner of soup cooked in the crock pot and homemade bread. Midway through the bread rising, however, the power went out. I said something we generally don't like our children to say and placed the shaped bread dough in the refrigerator to slow their rising. I was irritated and reacted poorly, I admit. I thought Bill was awake and burst into our room with the news that our power was out. It wasn't the best move on my part but eventually he forgave the rude awakening. Our candlelit lunch consisted of potato chips and fruit. It was close to an hour and the lights came back on to every ones joy and relief. The bread went into the oven and Aulay went down for a nap.

Elizabeth had agreed to pick Murron up from school this afternoon but I was starting to have my doubts when it was getting closer to the time school lets out and she hadn't yet arrived. Again I prepared to walk the quarter-mile and I saw her at the end of the street. As I caught up with her my annoyance was apparent as I asked her why she was late and stated my opinions on the matter quite forcefully. A short time later, waiting in front of the school, the kids were let out and Murron arrived with only one glove. Perturbed, the three of us retraced her steps and then it was discovered that she had also forgotten her lunch box. Several minutes later than planned, after finding it in the lunch room, we made our way home.

Later this evening, having enjoyed our dinner and a fun movie, we gathered to listen to Bill's Bible reading and pray before bed. There was something in particular that Bill wanted to read, though, and I was slightly bothered at the departure from our normal routine. He found the verses in 2nd Kings chapter 4 where the prophet Elisha foretells that a wealthy woman whose husband was elderly would have a son. This was not part of her plan yet she did become pregnant and gave birth to a son exactly when the prophet said she would. Some years later the boy complained of a headache and was brought to their home and died. Again the woman reminded Elisha that she hadn't wanted anyone to raise her hopes in the first place. Yet after Elisha healed her son she fell at his feet, bowed to the ground, then simply left with her boy.

Recalling all that happened, today, has certainly brought up some unpleasant facts about my reactions to being interrupted. In reality I don't handle disruptions to my plans or expectations well at all. Whether it's a moderate disturbance to my daily routine or an intrusion that greatly alters my schedule I will either become slightly annoyed or completely aggravated. While this definitely isn't any new discovery to me, I am aware of far more important implications, regarding my availability to God for ministry. Opportunities to pray for, encourage, or even assist those that He brings my way don't make it into my itinerary and there usually isn't a lot of advance notice, either. Today I didn't have to look far for those God-interruptions, either, as my husband and kids were all close-by. Except now, at near-midnight, when all are in bed except me. This wasn't planned, either, but that's okay.