Thursday, December 31, 2009
In many ways, 2009 was a difficult year...yet it was also such a rewarding year.
Isn't that so very much the nature of God though?
He told us in scripture...
"I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]"
That pretty much sums up our experience for 2009.
There was tearing, stretching, confusion, heartache, brokenness, challenge, change, illness, frustration and a whole lot of uncertainty in some areas.
Yet, in the very same moments there was Perfect Peace, Tremendous Joy, quiet Confidence, Healing, Prosperity that defied the world's economics, Divine direction, Harvest, Unshakable Faith, a Knitting of Hearts, Fresh Understanding, Great Expectation and eventually HOPE.
2009 was a hard year...but I am leaving it truly Thankful for all that it has taught my Family and I.
It was a Very Good Year!
Blessings to each of you as you complete 2009 and praying much Joy and Hope for all that He has for you in 2010!
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
If you love peanut butter cups, you absolutely must try this recipe.
A coworker brought them in a couple of times for Friday Treat days and they are incredible.
Make sure you have a steaming hot cup of tea ready for your taste test, (or if you must, coffee), milk is wonderful too.
Mark tried a melty one not long out of the oven and went on and on about the richness....then BEGGED me to let him have another.
Pretty much the same reaction from Michael, minus the complaints and with the addition of cold milk guzzling.
The girls loved helping especially since the recipe involves the rolling of balls of dough.
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 40 miniature chocolate covered peanut butter cups, unwrapped
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
- Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda; set aside.
- Cream together the butter, sugar, peanut butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg, vanilla and milk. Add the flour mixture; mix well.
- Shape into 40 balls and place each into an ungreased mini muffin pan.
- Bake at 375 degrees for about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately press a mini peanut butter cup into each ball. Cool and carefully remove from pan.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
It seems everyone you talk to is endeavoring to simplify Christmas this year. Some it is due to strained budgets, others time constraints...for me it's been some ongoing health challenges.
As the season approached, I knew I had to approach my preparations differently.
Ordinarily, Christmas involved decorating every possible corner of my home, baking until the freezer was overflowing with goodies, fitting in as many festive goings ons as possible and shopping until I literally wanted to drop....then there was the wrapping of all of those shopping finds.
Because I knew I was limited in what I could accomplish this year, I asked my kids and hubby to tell me their one favorite Christmas recipe...then I did the unheard of, (well, for me it was unheard of)...I accepted help from a friend to do some of that baking. Some of the things that the girls love to help with and are capable of handling, we will do together once we are off for the break.
My children's desires for Christmas were pretty attainable and instead of hours and hours of shopping, I broke the lists down into short stints that I could manage, asked for help from my hubby and accepted help from another friend or two.
My daughters absolutely LOVE wrapping gifts, so we fine tuned their skills and they have done almost all of the wrapping to date. The gifts look terrific and the girls are very proud that they are the ones to have made them look so good. (We love the paper that has the lines marked out on the inside but they are also learning to measure and eye out the right size piece of paper for each gift.)
The tree decorating party is always a big deal to me and knowing that in all likelihood this is the last year that my Johnny will be home for that tradition, I could not let it go.
Mark really stepped up to the plate here. My hubby would be fine if there were no tree and certainly rather not decorate it at all...but has come to realize how important it is to me that we do it together.
We set our date for the end of November and because I had not done any of my baking yet, we bought treats.
Mark surprised me the day before the tree was to be decorated, by taking a morning off work and setting up the tree and stringing the lights as well as putting up the outside lights.
I had no idea until he brought me home from work and it was all waiting!
It really did make the actual tree decorating so much more enjoyable...and quick too!
We were done in plenty of time to head to the mall and pick up a Blue Ray copy of the newer version of Miracle on 31st street, in order to fulfill Mark's one favorite tradition.
Every year after the tree is decorated, at hubby's promptings, we all sit down and watch this wonderful movie. Just like every other year, Mark and I were wiping moist eyes at the end of it too.
Here we are just over 2 weeks away from Christmas Day...Most of what needs to be done is done and I have learned some very valuable lessons:
Most of what I have done every year...is for me. The rest of my family is quite happy with simplicity.
Needing help is humbling...but accepting it is very rewarding.
Shopping with friends is so much more fun.
My children are feeling a real sense of satisfaction in getting to be a bigger part of the preparations.
"Keeping it simple" does not mean we don't do the things we have traditionally done, but we do the ones that are meaningful and we do them differently.
Christmas is magical and special and amazingly wonderful not because of all that we do and accomplish...but because of the people involved and the
ONE who accomplished so much when He humbled Himself and came to this earth in a helpless and vulnerable state...
Hmmmm...could that be the lesson I am to learn this Christmas?
Humility, vulnerability and even helplessness were used by the God of this universe to accomplish the greatest gift ever given, yet somehow I felt I needed to be strong, capable and independent in order to make Christmas special.
I don't have to make Christmas special...He already did.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Is it my imagination or is my hubby trying to tell me something?
Do you remember the book Mark surprised me with not long ago..."Rebel Women of the East Coast"?
I really tried to believe he meant that in the very best light....
On Friday, I received my back-ordered birthday gift from hubby.
A beautiful camera with an extra telescopic lens, gorgeous carrying case etc...way beyond my capabilities I might add...(ummmm... HELP!!!)
So tonight I thought I would try a few of the buttons out and see if I could figure anything out...by the way, LOVE the telescopic lens!
Low and behold, I catch the NAME of the camera..."REBEL"..HHHmmmfff!!!
What IS he trying to tell me?!??!
Friday, November 20, 2009
My first little princess came into our world 11 years ago today...She was born in the Napanee Hospital at 4:35 PM and was heading through the Tim Hortons drive through with daddy, (and Mommy) at 7:30 that same eve. Daddy's always been very proud of that, sure he would have a coffee drinker in the making if he introduced her so young.(maybe if it had been a Starbucks coffee whose aroma first passed her wee senses...)
I am proud to say, Maria is her mommy's girl. Won't touch coffee, loves painting her nails, baking, reading, has been introduced to and fallen in love with my Kindred Spirit, Anne of Green Gables over the past week, senses a baby from across a crowded mall and will turn into an owl in order to crane her neck to see it.
Speaking of malls, my girl LOVE, LOVES, LOVES to shop...shoes and clothes are her favorites but accessories and girly girl items are loads of fun too.
Oh! and after a few years of doing her best to deny it, her innate and genetically inherited adoration of PINK is finding it's rightful place in her life...ahhh, could I be more proud?!?!?!
I figured 11 was a great age to indulge her in her love for shopping, and her cake is a shopping bag from her favorite store, with Maria's choice of colors and her beloved polka dots.
On the board it says, "Maria was Born to Shop".
So with gift cards in hand, Maria and her mommy, (and our other little shopping protege, Jianna), will be found, bargain hunting and oohing and ahhing over all of the things she loves at the mall this weekend...and if it is to be a very good day, there will be babies to coo over at every turn.
Happy Birthday to My Beautiful Angel Girl...I love you so very much and love spending time with you doing the things we both love so much...maybe we'll even have a tea or hot chocolate at Starbucks...but most certainly not a drop of coffee shall pass by either of our lips!
Sunday, November 1, 2009
I was drawn to this book when it was part of an advertisement for a "Girl's Night Out" event that was coming to Maranatha last Spring. It caught my attention initially, because of the pink cell phone, (something at the time, I was working with my husband to obtain). Then the title struck me as I was in a time of reflection, frustration and even disappointment with many of my relationships.
I ended up making the decision to go to the event at the last minute and this book was given to the first couple hundred ladies through the door. The event itself was surprising and is where I bought the book "Completely His" by Shannon Ethridge, which I have referred to in recent blogs.
Shannon's book took me on a journey of intimacy with Jesus. I became excited to pursue and be pursued by my First Love, yet, in the midst of my pursuit of Him, something else began to take place. He led me lovingly and gently, to a place of examining my other relationships and discovering some very difficult truths as to why some had not been as mutually fulfilling as I truly desired.
Through some very Divine direction, (using Maria to suggest Rosemary Flaaten's book as my next reading assignment), God drew me toward the next step of my journey. I hadn't read this book when I received it and had thought it was about intimacy with Jesus, so was quite happy to begin it and to take this new intimacy with Jesus to a greater depth.
I have to tell you, I had been seeing God sovereignly connect and draw me in the area of relationships, but could not make the connection between my pursuit of Jesus and His obvious desire to have me examine my earthly relationships.
On the very day I opened my "cell phone" book, I was scheduled to meet with a friend and have a very real and possibly uncomfortable chat.
Within the very first chapter, I internally winced, thought about retreating, and finally went "Ah Ha! That's it"...over and over again.
Rosemary confirmed what Holy Spirit was revealing to me little by little for the past few weeks...
The depth of my Relationship with Him, will be in direct proportion to my ability to be in deep relationship with others.
I can't even begin to tell you in one blog how much God is impacting me and unveiling truth to me through this book. This woman understands me and how and why I process the way that I do. As I begin to grasp, then understand one truth, she moves deeper and the dots are connecting to reveal the whole picture so clearly.
I am only half way through the book...(it really must be chewed, swallowed, digested and savored slowly to allow God to do all that He is wanting to do); yet, the way that Holy Spirit is changing, healing and releasing me from some very old chains, is really quite mind boggling.
For once, I am forced to process through the Spirit's leading first and allow my intellect to catch up later, rather than to think about, process and understand prior to receiving.
He is being that sovereign with me.
I will post more nuggets from this journey in future posts, but I have to tell you, if you have questioned or been unsatisfied with your earthly relationships as a woman...you may want to get a hold of this book, it may just change you and therefore your relationships forever.
I LOVE when God lines things up just the way I need them to be, before I even know I need them...He is so very trustworthy.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Guess Where My Hubby is taking me for my Birthday?!?!?
I can't tell you how excited I am!
I had really wanted to go down to White Horse in Indiana and
take in one of their incredibly Holy Spirit led conferences and Hubby came up with the idea of doing this one with me for my Birthday.
It started out as a long shot, the kids need care, the dog
taking care of...and I would need three days off work. I wasn't even sure if protocol would be in place for me to take time away during the school year. I had built up lots of lieu time, but still...
Everything fell into place so quickly....except my request for time off. I waited patiently as my boss tried to find out if and how I could do it.
The longer I waited, the more I believed Mark and I were to be there and was so excited at the prospect, then sooo nervous that it all hinged on me getting the time. I really began to feel yesterday, that it was a Daniel request and that the answer was being wrestled out in the Heavens..I recruited some warriors and waited...somewhat impatiently.
Today it was official...My principal came to tell me that they were more than willing to support my going away but had taken so long as they wanted a fill in so that I would not lose the momentum in my position that we had worked so diligently to gain this year.
It was actually in my best interest that they took so long, because I won't come back to near the back Log! Isn't God Amazing!!!
Sunday, October 18, 2009
On the first day of Fall, I posted a simple picture with just a few words on it....meaningful, to me but I had no idea how powerfully prophetic they were.
I can't even begin to tell you all that Holy Spirit is sovereignly orchestrating in and for me since that post...but WOW!
We tend to think of long hard winters as a time of barrenness...but summers have the potential to be long, hot, dry and tiring as well. It would seem many seasons have come and gone in my life with an unwavering knowledge of God's workings in my life...I can see the fruit, but it has been for the most part unseen and unfelt.
I have so longed for the times when I could see and feel Him...to be overwhelmed by His presence and His workings in my life personally.
Through pain, I was drawn to a place of desperation and it was in that place that Holy Spirit began to woo me into a place of intimacy with my groom Jesus.
I was thrilled to just get to know my Jesus on such an incredible level....but I had no idea of all that would flow from that desire, pursuit and place of intimacy.
He has brought me much needed rest, (in Him), He is continuing to show me the Harvest of good fruit in and around me, He is releasing me from some very old chains that have bound my heart more tightly than I could have ever imagined...and He is birthing a fresh anticipation in me...Hope is rising, and I so needed my hope restored.
It would seem that suddenly He is answering all of my heart's cries tangibly in front of my very eyes...and it is all so undeniably, sovereignly Him. Not all that He is doing is "comfortable" but knowing He is the orchestrator and that it is for freedom and for my greater good, makes it sooo OK.
Oh! to know His presence surrounding, filling, healing, restoring and simply overwhelming me. There is such peace in this place of Knowing Him.
What a Faithful, Faithful God we serve.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Bridal Love vs Bridle Love ....
Think about that for just a moment.
Very different images aren't they? Having spent a couple of years around horses as a teen, I have seen the largest, most stubborn of horses controlled by a bridle. I remember riding a very strong willed horse and being coached, "don't let him get his head"...when you control a horse's head, you control his whole body.
That is not what God wants for us, He doesn't want to simply control us through our intellectual commitment to Him. He wants our heart, to the point that we give ourselves over completely to Him...knowing the fulfillment that is mutually ours in this loving relationship. He offers us Bridal love...passionate, tender, fulfilling, compete, eternal Bridal Love.
This is one of the truths that I am finally beginning to grasp through Shannon Ethridge's book "Completely His".
It's not a new concept to me, but in all these years, I have not really been able to grasp it . I got "saved" literally, at 10. All I knew is that Hell was real and I didn't want to go there. I then learned of commitment and servitude, good Biblical truths...but a very different level of relationship from the next stage which was seeing God as my Healthy Loving Father. That, for me was ground breaking. Though I have even sat under solid wonderful teaching on Jesus the Husbandman, it never seemed to penetrate my heart. I understood it....sort of, but allowing my heart to truly KNOW it was another story. I think I am starting to...it's truly life altering.
Within this concept of Bridal Love, Shannon shares a thought that I have been meditating on all week.
Is it possible that God created sunsets, the ocean, the color pink and chocolate because He knew I would LOVE them?
It caused me to think of another situation...a friend had been traveling way out west and saw a book: Pink Princess Tea Parties, She told me, she immediately thought of me because I love all of those things and bought the book to bring home to me. It was such a sweet and very unexpected surprise, (thank you Shari), but if I let my imagination wander just a wee bit, is it possible, that God, knowing I would be thrilled with such a gift, had the store carry it and display it at just the time and place that Shari would be shopping , see it and think of me? Maybe that thought verges on vanity...but maybe, just maybe, He cares for us that much.
My little girls, (don't tell them I referred to them that way please), made gifts and cards for their daddy's birthday yesterday. They knew we had purchased gifts and even cards from them, but they knew their daddy's heart and they knew what he would love and cherish, and they created it.
Could God have been thinking of me and what I would love and cherish, when He created chocolate beans and my happy flower Pansies?
For me, these are extravagant thoughts...but the more I meditate on these ideas, the more I realize my God loves me enough that it is most certainly quite possible indeed.
WOW! WOW!! WOW!!!!
I am Thankful for so many things this Thanksgiving weekend...The Love of a God who is gently wooing me into a place of Bridal Love and all of the many gifts He has showered on me from the beginning of time.
For this amazing family He has created and is raising through me...truly a miracle!
For friendships...most definitely a gift to treasure.
I am thankful for all of the beauty he surrounds me with, from the amazng Autumn colors to blazing sunsets, to the most girly of all colors...PINK.
He IS good...AND He Really , Really Loves US!
Monday, October 5, 2009
I started a new book on my lunch hour today by Shannon Ethridge, Completely His. I actually purchased it in the spring with a number of Shannon's other books, but am just discovering it's gems now. I got so excited about this particular revelation, I just had to share it with you. I have been in church most of my life and been taught on communion and the last supper countless times, but not with the understanding that only comes from knowing the traditions of the jewish people of Jesus' day.
In Jesus time, when a marriage was being negotiated and proposed, the bride to be did have a say in whether she would marry her potential groom. Once the price had been negotiated, the groom would poor a cup of wine and offer it to the bride. This was a pivotal moment, the bride could reject the cup and the groom would return to his father's house rejected...or she would drink from the cup, signifying that she was willing to receive the groom's life and was offering hers in return.
Once she drank from the cup, the groom would return to his father's house and proceed to build a room on to the home for himself and his bride, this is where the marriage was to be consummated. Only after the room was completed and everything was in order for the bride, would he return and receive his bride to himself.
Soooooo, after Jesus had spent time in the garden wrestling with God over the "price", he shared a meal with His disciples then poured the wine and offered the cup to each disciple...it was His proposal to his bride! After the disciples had received the cup accepting the proposal, Jesus told them He was going away. The disciples were upset, but Jesus said:
"Don't be troubled, you trust God, now trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father's home, and I am going to prepare a place for you. If this were not so, I would tell you plainly. When everything is ready, I will come and get you so that you will always be with me where I am"
Talk about perspective! Not only was Jesus asking us to remember all that he did for us on the cross...(the price and all that it entitles us to), He was asking us to remember His proposal and our acceptance and that He is getting everything ready to come back and receive us as His bride for all eternity.
Does that not make communion an even more intimate and personal experience?
Sunday, October 4, 2009
TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Author: Robert Frost
Lately, I am taken back to a little school in Nova Scotia, to my grade 5 discovery of this, my most favorite of poems..."The Road Not Taken".
Even then, at such a formative age, this poem held such meaningful imagery .
I remember wishing I could paint all that it brought to my imagination.
I have been pressed, it would seem on every side, by the burden of seeing a harvest in loved ones' lives that is anything but desirable.
I have questioned myself, God and others about the stark differences between my life and theirs that have at times threatened to overwhelm me.
Today, I ponder Robert Frost's poem and it's meaning as well as imagery once again...could the answer be that simple?
I chose a different path.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
I am not sure at what point it happened, but somewhere in the past week, I went from fighting seasonal allergies to fighting a bad cold. It was a PA Day yesterday, which would have been a perfect opportunity to call in sick and rest up, but there was a staff meeting planned and some of the topics covered concerned my position.
When my boss heard the bug in my voice she apologized for giving it to me as she had been sick earlier in the week while we were meeting over attend. issues. I assured her I was well drugged and would be OK. Half way through the meeting, I was getting very stuffy and couldn't figure it out, I'd taken some pretty good stuff. At the break, I reached in my pocket and found the 2 capsules I'd thought I'd taken that morning....I guess technically I'd "taken" them but in my fog, I missed out on the actual ingestion of them.
(It has nothing to do with being blond either...I can see the smirks you know!)
I discovered something about us females today.
We are caretakers by nature.
Both Maria and I were quite miserable by this morning, which pretty much went unnoticed by the males in our home, but not Jianna.
Since supper time last night, she has been trying to get me to eat salad..."but it's healthy mom".
Soup, Ok, but how many of you out there, really feel like sitting down to a nice crunchy salad when you feel ill?
When I refused a salad for breakfast, she peeled me an orange and fed it to me segment by segment, (popping a few in her own mouth as she did). "It will give you vitamin C " she declared.
Then she decided she needed to make pancakes and asked me would I like some and would I like them with or without blueberries?
It's a pretty big job for a 7 year old to make pancakes and she always had Maria's help in the past, so I said which ever was easier for her. She thought for a minute, "are blueberries healthy?"
"yes they are"I said.
"I'll make them with blueberries".
She stuffed as many blueberries as she could get into each of my pancakes and was very proud of herself for doing so.
Along with drinks and my iron pills, she brought me an apple...
I don't know who ever told her that old saying, "feed a cold, starve a flu", but boy was she going to feed this thing right out of me!
When I said I couldn't eat the apple right now, she left my room.
Upon her return, she handed me the following schedule she'd written down:
2:05-2:45 play game
Now, Jianna had not counted on the fact that Maria would fall asleep beside me and with the terrible gurgling in her chest, there was little opportunity to fall asleep; but just as I was starting to dose off ... In pops my little nurse, (at 1:59 to be exact), "time for your apple!"
The fact that Jianna had written the schedule down, pretty much set it in stone in her mind and I knew I would never have the strength to get well at all if I expended what would be necessary to convince her otherwise.
Funny, how she was totally fine with the game taking much longer than the allotted time though...mind you, she certainly took note of it.
Thank Heaven for Little Girls...because the boys would let you starve to death on your sick bed!
PS: It seems my Little Nurse is not yet off duty, it's 7:19 and I was heading for a shower, when Jianna asked me had I taken my iron pill with supper. I had to confess, I'd forgotten. You should have seen the appalled look on her face, like I'd just undone all her hard work in one foul sweep!
Maybe, the little nurse should have added it to my schedule!
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
It had been one of those days. You know the kind...the ones that leave you feeling like you just can't do it all, after all. Work had been long, tiring, and trying. I'd felt behind the eight ball most of the day, so I ate at my desk and worked thorough my breaks...never a very good plan.
I was glad to finally put the work day aside and retreat to my haven of a home for a little reprieve before the troops arrived with their mountains of homework to supervise, dinner to make, laundry...you know, the mom stuff.
This year, I am the first one out of the house in the morning so I am never quite sure what might face me as I walk through the front door. This day, the sink was FULL of dirty dishes, the dishwasher needed unloading, there were lunch-making-crumbs scattered over all of my counter tops...
But the last straw was my eldest daughter's PJ's.
Not on the floor or the couch where I often find them, no, they were on my kitchen counter! Why? Is there ever a good reason to leave you PJs on the kitchen counter...especially when your bedroom is DOWNSTAIRS.
She wasn't there, but my hubby was.
Yup, my frustration all came out in one sentence..."I CAN'T DO IT ALL!!!"
I really needed to sit down and veg, or better yet pray, but I couldn't stand the mess and got to work, threatening to let everyone fend for themselves for supper.
Hubby went back to work and my kitchen and my emotions were all tidied nicely before my kiddies came through the door. We got through homework and I even got to relax while the girls peeled potatoes for supper.
I was in a much better frame of mind when Mark arrived announcing he had a surprise and I had to close my eyes....
He'd had the florist put together a beautiful bouquet of deep red roses and perfect white lilies and if that were not enough, he bought this huge candle arrangement that he knew would remind me of my beloved ocean...(so glad I'd made a supper they all loved!)
When Maria asked what the occasion was, I explained that sometimes your hubby will bring you gifts because you got cranky with him.
OK, so maybe that wasn't a "mother/wife of the year" life lesson to give to my little girl...I'll have to work on that.
I do have a feeling she will need a husband as understanding as her mother's though.
Friday, September 11, 2009
I love surprises and I love gifts...I mean who doesn't love to know that they were being thought of and that someone picked out or made something just for you?
Tonight my Hubby came home with the announcement that he had a surprise for me...that he had bought me something.
My guy who holds me in the utmost regard, told me that as soon as he saw this, he had to get it for me....
Not too sure how to take that!
Women's Stories are amazing, but the stories captured in this book are exceptional. These are stories of women who refused to accept any limits, of women who stepped out of a common life and into history, of women living out their best moments, when they dared to do what other women-and men- did not do. In writing about these amazing women, I have tried to capture each woman at the peak of her individual story.